If there is one thing that I wish I would convey the importance of more to my clients in addition to eating healthy, is getting a good night’s rest. Sleep is one of the most neglected components of healthy living that many people never take into consideration. We get so busy with life that we normally use whatever time we can to continue our “rat race”, and what’s the 1st thing to get replaced by running on that hamster wheel? Sleep. Well the one thing you may not know is that those 2 to 3 hours that you used sending those emails instead of running off to dreamland can not only be affecting your energy levels, but may also be making you a moody mickey, less focused and even increasing your risk of a few different diseases.
Our mood when we are awake can really be affected by the time and quality of our sleep. When we are sleeping, our body is working to support good brain function and physical health. Sleep even plays an important role for children and teenagers for growth and development. Sleep helps the brain work properly and prepare for the next day by forming new pathways to help us learn and remember information. It’s safe to say that getting a good night’s rest can help improve learning. Studies have shown that sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain. When we are sleep deficient, we may have trouble solving problems, making sound choices as well as controlling our feelings and behavior. It affects how we think, react, work, learn, and get along with others. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behaviors.
Damage from sleep deficiency can also be harmful to you over time. There are many studies that have shown that ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Lack of sleep can also increase the risk of obesity.
Sleep helps control the balance of hormones that make you feel hungry and full. When you haven’t had sufficient sleep, your level of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) goes up and your level of leptin (the satiety hormone) goes down. You tend to eat more when you haven’t had a good night’s rest.
Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin. This is the hormone that controls your blood sugar levels. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which can increase your risk for diabetes.
It’s recommended that adults should get an average of 7-8 hours a night. Anything less than that can result in the health and mood problems that we just talked about in the above paragraphs. As much as I understand that we all have busy lives and may need to replace regular sleep to play catch up for work, school or life- it is just as important to live a well balanced life. Sleep is a component that should not be neglected because whether you realize it or not it does affect your well being. So shut that computer off 1 hour sooner, put on some meditation music or sounds and just see how getting a couple of extra hours can make you a brand new person.
Get Lifted… Or in this case, get to snoozing!
*Information primarily sourced from the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute.