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Time to Get the Sleep Your Body Needs


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Sleep, like food, is a basic sustenance for restoring one's health and wellness. In a similar fashion to how we rationalize weight gain, Americans tend to have an exhaustive list of reasons as to why they did not get a good night's sleep. Most of us just shrug our shoulders and accept that we live very stressed-filled lives, and once we are adults, our time spent between the sheets may never be same. But, according to studies published by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, ignoring sleep deficiencies as an adult is something you should never do. Throughout your life from birth to your senior years, sleep plays a crucial role in protecting your physical and mental well-being. Without adequate amounts of the right phases of sleep, your good health and quality of life may be compromised.

Understanding the Importance of Sleep Hygiene

So, how much do you really know about chronic sleeplessness and the warning signs that you are not getting the rest your body needs?

Let's start with the fact that sleep is just as important to health and wellness as diet and exercise. Didn't know that? Well, it might not be your fault. Generally speaking, doctors are much more likely to discuss other lifestyle issues with their patients, such as smoking, poor dietary habits, or a lack of exercise. Unfortunately, individuals who don't get enough sleep are usually more apt to have bigger appetites due to reduced levels of a hunger-regulating hormone called leptin. On a positive note, the rising rates of obesity, chronic diseases and metabolic syndrome in United States have caused medical researchers to now focus more on the effects of genetic makeup and hormonal imbalances for the "whole body" rather than an isolated disorder.

In 1939, Nathaniel Kleitman, PhD, coined the term sleep hygiene in a book he authored on sleep cycles. Over the next two decades, Dr. Kleitman and his graduate student assistants paved the way for the scientific field of sleep research. His experiments introduced the medical community to the concept of sleep cycles like rapid eye movement (REM sleep), basic rest activity cycles (BRAC) and circadian rhythms. In time, sleep hygiene evolved into a list of recommendations for behavioral practices that included:

  • Establishing a regular sleep schedule
  • Limiting naps* taken during the day
  • Establishing quiet time to help manage stress and worry
  • Avoiding physical exercise too close to bedtime
  • Avoiding mental stimulation too close to bedtime
  • Avoiding stimulants like coffee, alcohol and nicotine before bed
  • Keeping the bedroom quiet, cool and dark
  • Getting up rather than tossing restlessly in bed

*NOTE: Napping during the day can provide a boost in alertness but adults should not nap for more than 20 minutes. Those who experience difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep at night should try eliminating naps or taking them earlier in the day.

Published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), the International Classification of Sleep Disorders is considered to be the authoritative clinical text for the diagnosis of sleep disorders. The AASM classifications divides disorders into six categories that include insomnia, breathing disorders, circadian rhythm or wake disorders, parasomnias, disorders of hypersomnolence, and sleep-related movement disorders like restless leg syndrome.

Environmental and Occupational Impact on Sleep Cycles

Do you have a clear understanding as to how your daily regimen affects your sleep patterns, judgment, and decision-making abilities in "real-world" situations?

The Industrial Revolution in America forever changed the face of our nation. Long before the corporate concept of working 9 to 5, manufacturers divided the twenty-four hour clock into three equal segments for shift work. Numerous research studies have concluded jobs that disrupt your body's natural sleep patterns can pose a major risk to your health and well-being. It is estimated that 20% of American shift workers suffer from a medical condition known as "Shift Work Sleep Disorder". Moreover, even those workers who may not experience all of the symptoms of sleep disorder can still be at as much risk for obesity, heart disease, depression and diabetes as their counterparts who exhibit all the symptoms. As difficult as it may seem, it is important to maintain a regular sleep schedule with a good wind-down routine to separate your day from bedtime. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through its federal agency, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, published sleep guidelines for several industries and occupations where work schedules, shift work, and long hours impact employees.

For the rest of us, we face numerous threats to attaining the right amount of quality sleep, too. Since humans are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep, in many cases we are our own worst enemy. One of the primary reasons for feeling tired every day or fading in the afternoon comes from self-imposed sleep deprivation. Since your body was not designed to adapt quickly to an ever-changing world, it is imperative that you become proactive in managing sleep deficiencies. Environmental factors like the blue light emitted from smartphones and computer screens or intense workplace lighting can interfere with healthy sleep patterns. Recovery must be managed in a similar fashion to your diet and exercise routine. Of the estimated 40 million Americans who suffer from sleep disruptions on a regular basis, most never seek solutions to improve sleep deficiencies.

How Sleep Affects Your Mental Alertness and Decision Making

Did you know a sleeping brain is highly active and carries out numerous housekeeping functions by completing important sleep cycles?

Getting enough quality sleep through the right sleep cycles plays a vital role in keeping you mentally alert and focused. How much energy you have during the day and your ability to make good decisions depends in part, on what happens when you are in bed. While you are sleeping, your body is working to enhance your learning, thinking, memory, and emotional response mechanisms. Medical research studies have shown that sleep deficiency affects your health by increasing your risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The right amount of sleep helps your body maintain a healthy balance of important hormones like ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and leptin (the sated hormone). Moreover, your immune system relies on quality sleep, and sleep affects how your body reacts to insulin (the hormone that controls your blood sugar levels). It is easy to see that chronic sleep deprivation has numerous negative impacts on your health.*

Noticing how sleepy you feel during the day can help determine whether you are having problems getting enough quality sleep. For example, microsleep is a brief sleep episode where your brain fails to respond to sensory input and you temporarily lose consciousness. If you've ever been in a meeting or driving your car and suddenly realize you don't remember the last topic of discussion or the previous few miles of travel, you likely experienced microsleep. Sleep debt can cause you to doze off while reading, watching TV, sitting at a traffic light, or even during a conversation with someone. Although signs of sleep deficiency may differ between adults, impaired mental focus and lack of mental sharpness make it difficult to remember things, control your emotions, make decisions, finish tasks, manage mood swings, and maintain a healthy weight. Sleep deprivation can also lead to feelings of anger, depression, or a recurring lack of motivation.

Metabolic Research Center Focuses on the Whole Body

Have you been losing sleep searching for a program personalized for your specific needs and one that can help to restore your body's balance?

For more than three decades, the doctors, dietitians, and weight loss consultants at Metabolic Research Center have personalized plans to help clients make important lifestyle modifications to restore their health and well-being. The better you sleep, the better you feel. And as an added bonus, weight loss becomes easier. Listed below are telltale signs that you may suffer from sleep deficiencies:

  • Can't fall asleep at night
  • Feel exhausted but have disrupted sleep
  • Can't stay asleep or can't get back to sleep
  • Wake up feeling tired or groggy
  • Wish you could get one more hour of sleep
  • Catch yourself head bobbing during the day
  • Feeling irritable or angry when waking up

We understand that success lies in the combination of scientifically designed menus, expert weight loss coaching, and the right nutritional supplementation to boost your metabolism. Through our one-on-one approach, we can help you identify imbalances that are making it difficult for you to get the quality of sleep you need, lose weight, manage your emotions, and remain mentally alert throughout your day. Remember, a few simple changes can be the big difference between getting a good night's sleep and a night spent tossing and turning in bed.

Don't let a hidden hormone imbalance sabotage your best efforts to restore your health and wellness. One of the primary causes of excessive sleepiness and lack of mental focus among Americans is self-imposed sleep deprivation. If you feel it is time to get the sleep you need, MRC can help. Our team of specialists can personalize a plan designed to balance important hormone levels and meet your needs for eating real foods, being more active. and feeling your best every day. Contact the Metabolic Research Center nearest you for a FREE, no obligation consultation to discuss your specific goals in a private one-on-one meeting. We can help you move more, eat healthier, and get the sleep that your body needs while celebrating your success every step the way. Stop by the Metabolic Research Center nearest you, and get the sleep you need tonight.

 

*SOURCE: Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem by Harvey R. Colten and Bruce M. Altevogt, Editors, Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research, p. 19 (2006).

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