Back when I was in school and starting a career, many people (myself included) in the U.S. associated professional success with getting as little sleep as possible. Now, after much research has been done, science has come to realize that chronic sleep deprivation isn’t just bad for business, it’s detrimental to our health. Doctors are saying that chronic lack of sleep along with sedentary living can lead to serious health consequences, including weight gain, obesity and all those chronic illnesses associated with obesity, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Sleep needs and sleep patterns vary significantly from one person to another, but in general, the National Sleep Foundation suggests that healthy adults have a basic sleep requirement of seven to eight hours a night. The National Sleep Foundation, reported that four to five hours of sleep per night typically isn’t enough and can lead to serious physiological and neurobehavioral consequences.
Lack of sleep has been linked to the following adverse consequences:
• Increased risk of driving accidents
• Higher odds of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation
• Impaired glucose tolerance leading to an increased risk of diabetes and heart problems
• Increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse
• Decreased ability to pay attention, read signals or remember new information
When it comes to healthy living, getting enough sleep works hand in hand with eating right and getting exercise.
Lack of sleep can trigger the production of cortisol, a stress hormone, and an increase of insulin production, which then promotes fat storage and is associated with weight gain. Two other important hormones are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin signals your brain that it’s time to eat.When you’re sleep-deprived, your body makes more ghrelin. Leptin, on the other hand, cues your brain to put the fork down. When you’re not getting enough sleep, leptin levels plummet, signaling your brain to eat more food. A study by the University of Chicago in young adults found that restricting sleep to four hours a night for a week brought on the same glucose and insulin level characteristics that are seen in diabetics, which the investigator cautioned can be a pathway to obesity.
Sleep suggestions from the National Sleep Foundation for children and teens differ from those of adults. They suggest that children need much more sleep than adults: Preschoolers aged 3 to 5 need 11 to 13 hours of sleep while school-aged children up to age 12 need about 10 to 11 hours of sleep. Most teenagers typically need nine hours of sleep a night to function well.
Below are some suggestions for good sleep:
• Set regular sleep and wake up schedules, even on weekends
• Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or listening to soothing music
• Exercise regularly and finish your workouts at least three hours before bed time
• Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
• Create an environment that is dark, quiet and a comfortable sleeping temperature
• Use your bedroom for sleep and sex (do not watch TV in bed, use a computer or read)
• Eat 2-3 hours (or more) before bedtime
• Stop smoking
• Make sleeping a priority
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol near bedtime
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.