I am sure you have had family, friends or doctors tell you at some time or another just how important sleep is to your health, but has anybody ever really gotten into the why? The long-term effects of sleep deprivation negatively affect your health and the research corroborates it. According to the National Sleep Foundation the recommended hours of sleep are as follows:

  • Older Adult (over 65 years) …….7-8 hours
  • Adult (26-64 years) …………………7-9 hours
  • Young Adult (18-25 years) ………7-9 hours
  • Teenager (14-17 years) …………..8-10 hours
  • School Age (6-13 years)…………..9-11 hours
  • Preschool (3-5 years)………………10-13 hours
  • Toddler (1-2 years)………………….11-14 hours
  • Infant (4-11 months)……………….12-15 hours
  • Newborn (0-3 months)…………….14-17 hours

After viewing the above guidelines, are you getting the recommended amount of sleep? If not, according to a recent report, you are among the 40% of people in the US who are sleep deprived, getting only 6 hours or less each night. Without enough sleep, your brain and body systems won’t function normally and can dramatically lower your quality of life, so much so that a recent review of 16 studies found that sleeping les then 6 hours a night increases the risk of early death by 12%.

If you’ve ever spent the night tossing and turning, then you already know the feeling the next day of being tired, cranky, unmotivated and just not all with it. If these symptoms are occurring daily, you could see how they alone could start to affect personal as well as professional relationships. Let’s look at the physical effects of sleep deprivation.

1. Weight Gain- There are 2 hormones, leptin and ghrelin, found in the body that control feelings of hunger. Leptin tells your brain that you’ve had enough to eat while ghrelin is an appetite stimulant. Without enough sleep, your brain reduces leptin while raises ghrelin.

2. Risk for type 2 diabetes- Sleep deprivation prompts your body to release higher levels of insulin after you eat causing a rise in your blood sugar levels. This rise in insulin promotes fat storage. This can eventually lead to insulin resistance which increase the risk of diabetes.

3. Weakened immune system- Cytokines are cell signaling molecules that aid cell to cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection and trauma. In short, they combat foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from building up these molecules which can increase your recovery time from illnesses.

4. Risk of cardiovascular disease- Sleep affects the processes that keep your heart and blood vessels healthy being it plays a vital role in your body’s ability to heal and repair both the blood vessels and the heart.

5. Hormone production- Insufficient sleep can affect hormone production, including growth hormones as well as testosterone in men. These are the hormones that help build muscle mass and repair cells and tissues.

6. Central nervous system- The central nervous system is the way your body sends and receives information. Sleep is necessary to keep it functioning properly. During sleep, pathways form between nerve cells in your brain that help you remember new information you’ve learned. Sleep deprivation leaves your brain exhausted, so it can’t perform its duties as well. You may also find it more difficult to concentrate or learn new things.

We have just examined the importance of sleep, below are some useful tips to help you get
that much needed rest.

1. Set a bed and wake time- Frequently changing the times you go to bed and wake up confuses your circadian rhythm, your body’s biological clock. Waking at the same time optimizes neurotransmitter activity. Following a regular schedule, even on weekends, can help you get the rest you need.

2. Establish a nightly routine- You could take a warm bath, listen to soothing music, meditate, or do any other activity that helps you wind down. Following a routine each night will signal your body that bedtime is coming and help you fall asleep more quickly and easily.

3. Keep electronics out of your bed- The blue light from glowing electronic screens suppresses your body’s production of melatonin, an important hormone for sleep. Try and shut off electronics 60 minutes before bed.

4. Limit what you drink- Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake and can take 6-8 hours to wear off, so stay away from caffeinated beverages in the late afternoon or evening. Alcohol, which is a sedative, may make you feel tired, but it disrupts the quality of your sleep. Avoid drinking alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. Drinking too much of any liquid before bed may lead to bathroom trips during the night. Stop your water intake 2 hours before bed.

5. Eat right at night- Don’t eat heavy meals too late. They overload your digestive system, which affects your sleep. If you are going to eat before bed stick to a light snack consisting of only protein and fat.

6. Dark environment- Make your room as dark as possible. The darker it is, the more it signals your brain to make melatonin.

7. Get up and try again- If these tips still do not help and you find yourself still lying awake after 15 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing such as reading, meditating or listening to soothing music. Then go back to bed and try again!

8. Get it out of your head – Planning the next day? Write down ( not type) what you need to accomplish. This can help you avoid the anxiety of forgetting important tasks decreasing brain activity allowing you to rest knowing that you can pick up right where you left off.

If you continue to suffer from sleep deprivation, make the time to go to your Doctor. They can
check to see if there is any underlying health condition that is causing this and may be able
further help you get those much needed ZZZ’s.

Goodnight everybody!!!!

Committed to your Success,

Team Body Image Fitness.