Sleep for the health of it

Not only does a good night’s rest feel great, it also plays a vital role in our health.

Too little sleep can make you fatigued and sluggish, impacting your every day routine.

Too little sleep can make you fatigued and sluggish, impacting your every day routine.

Over 37 percent of adults get less than seven hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared to the recommended seven to nine hours. Sleep deprivation impacts nearly all aspects of human functioning. A person’s memory, communication skills, reaction time, situational awareness and ability to make decisions are decreased when sleep is insufficient. In addition to impaired cognition, one’s physiological health is impaired as well.

It is said that adequate sleep is just as important to health as nutrition and exercise is. Type 2 diabetes and undesired weight gain are two common consequences of not getting enough shut eye. Inadequate sleep affects your judgment, causing you to be more likely to choose unhealthy foods. It also affects our hormone levels that regulate hunger. The body will not be able to as effectively signal when it is full versus when it is hungry, causing you to eat more than you need. A Northwestern University study showed that night owls consumed 248 more calories a day than those who went to bed at a reasonable time. This adds up to a weight gain of over 25 pounds per year! Extra weight is associated with many diseases such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Additionally, too little sleep causes you to be fatigue, likely decreasing physical activity, which contributes to an unhealthy lifestyle.

In today’s fast-paced world it may seem unfeasible to add an extra hour or two of sleep into your daily routine. Harvard Medical School provides tips to help increase sleep, in both duration and efficiency:

  • Avoid caffeine six hours before your desired bedtime
  • Be efficient with your time during the day to avoid any late night working
  • Be sure to sleep in a dark, cool room
  • Avoid eating a heavy, late night meal
  • Leave electronics out of the bedroom, stopping any screen time 30-60 minutes before bed

While you may think that guzzling coffee in the morning replaces any sleep you may have missed, it is not so. The only way to truly re-charge your body the way it needs is to get enough sleep. Challenge yourself to getting eight hours of sleep per night. Your mind and body will thank you!

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