Do yourself a favour this year and add “sleep” to your list of New Year’s Resolutions. Sleep deprivation has become a widespread problem – while it is sometimes the result of an underlying disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea, it is also a consequence our 24/7 culture which often puts sleep on the back-burner.
If you’ve made a resolution to lose weight, exercise more or eat healthier, your goal may prove more effective if accompanied by a good night’s sleep. In addition to helping you achieve these goals, a little extra sleep has many other benefits for overall health and well-being.
Most people get optimal benefit from 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Sleeping too little (5-6 hours or less) or too much (9-10 hours of more) may lead to weight gain and obesity. Specifically, studies have found that short and long sleep durations alter hormones in such as way that that sparks an increase in hunger and appetite for carbohydrate-rich foods. One study conducted by the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that even one night of reduced sleep tends to increase food intake.
Furthermore, without adequate sleep, we wake up feeling tired, unrefreshed, and lacking the energy levels required to partake in physical activity or prepare healthy meals. Staving off weight gain is just one of the many health benefits of good sleep.
A recent article in The Boston Globe notes other compelling benefits which include: increased immunity (to say, the common cold), better efficiency and mental capacity, reduced chance of developing diabetes and heart disease, and there is truth to the notion of “beauty” sleep. Here is the link to the full article: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/articles/2010/12/27/getting_a_full_eight_hours_doesnt_just_make_a_difference_the_next_day__it_can_affect_your_health/
According to Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “Making a resolution to sleep more is almost antithetical to what New Year’s resolutions are about. Many people don’t realize that by sleeping more, they can achieve so many of those things, and it’s actually pleasant.’’
Exercise and diet are essential components of good health and maintaining healthy body weight– but sleep is the third piece of the puzzle. Cheers to more sleep!
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