“Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that enhances your memory, makes you more creative, makes you look more attractive, it keeps you slim and lowers food cravings.
It protects you from cancer and dementia; it wards off colds and the flu; it lowers your risk for hearts attacks and stroke; you’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious”
– Matthew Walker, Professor UC Berkley and Author of Why We Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health. In fact, it may be just as important as eating a balanced diet and exercising. Sleep is essential to every process in the body, affecting our physical and mental functioning the next day, our ability to fight disease and develop immunity, and our metabolism and chronic disease risk.
Numerous studies have associated short sleep — defined as sleeping fewer than 7 hours per night — with a greater risk of weight gain and a higher body mass index (BMI). This is likely partially related to its effect on hormones. For instance, sleep deprivation increases levels of ghrelin and decreases levels of leptin. Ghrelin is a hormone that makes us feel hungry while leptin makes us feel full. This combination may cause us to feel hungrier and overeat.
Another study showed that those with poor sleep ended up eating over 300 extra calories per day. This translates to a potential of over 70,000 extra calories and a 10-15# weight gain every year.
In addition, several studies have indicated that sleep deprivation affects food preferences. Sleep-deprived individuals tend to choose sweet, salty, starchy, fatty foods over more balanced food items.
Who wants to exercise when they’re tired? Losing sleep can result in having less energy for exercise and physical activity.
Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes.
Ways to improve sleep:
- Get into a routine – go to bed and wake up at (more or less) the same time every day. You can also develop your own sleep rituals to remind your body that it is time to sleep such as reading, calming yoga, meditation or having a cup of caffeine-free tea.
- Limit caffeine – caffeine is a stimulant that should be avoided for at least 4-6 hours prior to bedtime.
- Engage in exercise – regular exercise for 30 minutes per day is a great way to help with sleep. Try to avoid strenuous exercise within 2 hours of bedtime.
- Avoid large meals before bedtime – a small snack is likely ok if you’re hungry but anything bigger will distract your body from it’s main focus – sleep!
- Set the ambiance – sleep in a cool, dark, and gadget free room, free of distractions. Turn the clock faces out of view to avoid “clock watching”.
Leave a Reply