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.

April 17, 2018 - Author: Christi Demitz, Michigan State University Extension, Colleen Kokx, MSU Dietetic Intern

Over 37 percent of Michigan adults get less than 7 hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), compared to the recommended 7-9 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 physical health is impaired as well.

Not getting enough sleep can increase your risk for a number of chronic conditions. Type 2 diabetes and 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 signal when it is full versus when it is hungry as efficiently, 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 can add 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 fatigued, likely decreasing physical activity, which contributes to an unhealthy lifestyle.

In today’s fast-paced world, it may seem impossible to add an extra hour or two of sleep into your daily routine. The CDC provides tips to help improve your sleep health:

  • Be consistent and go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning; even on the weekends.
  • Be sure to sleep in a dark, quiet and cool room.
  • Avoid eating a large meal and drinking alcohol and caffeine before bedtime.
  • Leave electronics out of the bedroom, including TVs, smart phones and computers.
  • Exercise during the day; it can help you fall asleep more easily at night.

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 recharge your body is to get enough sleep. Challenge yourself to get at least 7 hours of sleep at night. Your mind and body will thank you.

Tags: chronic disease, diabetes, msu extension, nutrition, physical activity, weight management


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