Is That The Alarm?


Is that the alarm?? No, it can't be time to get up already...I'll just hit the snooze button, one more time..., one more time..., okay just one last time... Sound familiar? Most likely you have heard at some point or been told how important sleep is but how often do we actually make sleep a priority? With busy lives, demanding jobs, and a feeling of never having enough time to "get it all done", our sleep seems to be the first thing to go.

"I know I need to get more sleep, but there is just so much to do" you say. Well, consider this, there are several studies indicating the damaging effects of sleep deprivation including physical consequences, body not getting healing time and becoming run down and more susceptible to colds, flu's and other illnesses; cognitive consequences- the cant think, brain in a fog sensation that only seems to be cured with a triple-espresso cannon shot to the brain, and a negative impact on weight loss and weight maintenance. Actually, there is some evidence that lack of sleep can actually ADD extra pounds!

A most recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and reported by Scientific American Mind found " that studies of people without sleep-related conditions who got consecutive nights of four to six hours of sleep revealed a wide range of negative effects involving appetite hormone signaling, physical activity, eating behavior and even fat-loss rates". People who had 4-6 hours of sleep per night were found to eat more, have increased hunger and appetite by 23%-24% and one study testing women found they "ate an average of about 400 more calories daily than they had at the beginning of the session -and even gained weight over the course of the short study". While this study didn't mention it, several other studies have, the sleep quality is just as important as the sleep quantity.

The take home message here is that sleep deprivation affects many aspects of your health in a negative way. For those working hard to lose weight or maintain, it seems that getting a good night’s sleep will work in your favor, while sleep deprivation may sabotage your efforts. The best part is there are little things you can do to improve sleep time and quality of sleep.

  • Avoid bright lights and looking at television and computer screens right before bed
  • Avoid caffeine at least 6 hours before going to sleep
  • Use your bed for sleep and sex only. Retrain your body to associate your bed with sleep vs. reading, watching TV, working, etc.
  • Use a relaxation method before going to sleep in order to calm your body and mind such as taking a bath, journaling, deep breathing, praying
  • Let things go! Sometimes you just have to stop and say to yourself "my health is more important than this task I think HAS to get done..." Record late night TV shows to watch later; the laundry, dishes and dust will still be there in the morning, AND getting a refreshing night’s sleep will provide you with more energy to "get stuff done" tomorrow...

You can read the entire article at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=sleep-deprivation-obesity&WT.mc_id=SA_CAT_HLTH_20121030

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