It seems like everyone is so focused on their intense exercise regimens and nutritional plans to realize that they’ve forgotten about getting quality sleep!
Sleep is absolutely crucial to health and survival and the hard truth is that you’re not likely getting enough of it. Although most of us may feel like this is due to high work demands and our brains not being able to shut off, the real reason for lack of sleep is actually due to our own decision to delay our sleep over some other thing that we’re prioritizing. We go out with friends. We watch TV. We scroll through social media. This behaviour is unique to modern society. The average duration of sleep 100 years ago was 9 hours.
Studies have shown that later bedtimes and shorter sleeping hours result in hormone release that triggers hunger and greater levels of body fat accumulation. This was even demonstrated in children as a study followed 9000 of them from birth and showed that those that slept the least at a younger age were more likely to be obese at a later age than the children who slept more. It’s not clear whether lack of sleep leads to obesity or vice versa, but one thing is for sure, staying up later means more opportunity for late night snacks and when you mix that with increased hunger hormones your caloric intake skyrockets.
It doesn’t just stop there. With that extra weight gain, you’re more susceptible to insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes. One study even showed that young healthy men who slept 4 hours each night for 6 nights straight had the insulin sensitivity of a 70 year old pre-diabetic! On top of that, getting less than 7.5 hours of sleep each night means that your risk of heart attack, stroke and sudden cardiac death is higher than those who get adequate amounts of sleep. Lack sleep can also interfere with your daily functions including your mood, cognition and memory.
If that doesn’t make you want to get your sleep together, then I don’t know what will! But there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that sleep debt is cumulative, meaning that the more nights you have with less sleep, the greater your risk of negative effects. The good news is that you can catch up with just a few consistent nights of adequate sleep.
If it sounds like you need more sleep, consider these factors that influence your sleep in order to get an optimal sleeping pattern:
- Consistency: keep a similar bedtime and wake up time every day
- Light: keep the bedroom extremely dark when it’s bedtime
- Noise: keep it very quiet or use something for white noise, like a fan
- Routine: develop a routine before bed that helps you wind down. This can include meditation, stretching, camomile tea or whatever helps you! Check out our bedtime stretches on YouTube by clicking here.
- Temperature:Keep the room slightly cool, between 18-22 degrees.
For more tips on sleeping better or getting a more restful sleep, check out our blog on the first pillar of health: “Sleeping Well” by clicking here.
You can also check out our “7 Tips To Improve Your Sleep” YouTube video by clicking here.