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Is That The Alarm? The Dangers of Not Getting Enough Sleep


Blog Image: Is That The Alarm? The Dangers of Not Getting Enough Sleep

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? You've probably also been told, read, or heard how important sleep is for a healthy life. 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 that sleep deprivation is damaging to both the physical body (not getting enough healing time between physical activity, running on "E" and making yourself more susceptible to colds, flus, and other illnesses, etc.) and the mind (trouble thinking, brain fog, etc.). Some studies have shown that lack of sleep can have a negative impact on weight loss, weight maintanance - even making it eaiser to gain weight!

A 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 explicitly, there are many other studies that have investigated the importantance of quality of sleep over quantity of sleep. So, it's not just about how much, it's also about how good. 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.

If you've found yourself lacking in sleep quality or quantity, there's good news! Changing your sleep habits can start as soon as tonight! Here are our best tips for improving 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. Avoid other mentally engaging activities such as 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, or prayer and meditation
  • Let things go! Sometimes you just have to stop and say to yourself "my health is more important than X". For example, if a new episode of your latest TV craze comes on late, then record the show or catch a replay on a streaming platform. The laundry, dishes, and dust will still be there in the morning (unfortuantely, they aren't going anywhere without us!). But at least getting a refreshing night’s sleep will provide you with more energy to get those chores done tomorrow!

Interested in learning more about the study mentioned in this blog? Read more here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=sleep-deprivation-obesity&WT.mc_id=SA_CAT_HLTH_20121030

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