Pretty catchy title right? I thought it was pretty clever, then again I still have the humor of a 12 year old. You always hear things like “don’t sleep your life away” and “you’ll sleep when you’re dead”. Well, the truth is, without sleep you will actually be less productive and, odds are, you will die sooner than those who get regular sleep. Seems a little harsh, but let me explain.
Killing Me Softly
Sleep deprivation has been linked to many diseases and dysfunctions in the body, more specifically, cardiometabolic disease, immune dysfunction and stress tolerance. Cardiometabolic disease refers collectively to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. How can you become obese from not sleeping you ask? One study showed that restricting sleep for 8 consecutive days increased daily caloric intake by 566 calories a DAY! That’s almost 4,000 extra calories a week from sleeping less! That’s nice if you’re trying to bulk up, but for the majority of the world, this isn’t the case. Cortisol levels tend to increase the less sleep that you get, which can also lead to weight gain as well as other chronic headaches, decreased immune function and decreased sex drive. I could go on and on about the negative effects of sleep deprivation, but I think you get the picture. Let’s look at a couple of ways to help you sleep better.
8 Hours for the Win!
8 hours of sleep seems to be the standard recommendation when it comes to length of sleep. I tend agree, although it does vary slightly from person to person. Any less the 7 hours consistently and you’re entering the no fly zone, and any more than 9 hours consistently and you’re just lazy (unless of course you’re a teenager, in which case 12 hours seems to be the norm…..I miss those days). Here are a couple of ideas to get you ready for bed:
1) Turn off the lights – Melatonin is a hormone that helps us go to sleep and stay asleep. Light reduces the production of melatonin, therefore making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Here’s another reason. A study at Johns Hopkins University injected 2 groups of mice with a cancer-causing agent. One group was exposed to 16 hours of artificial light and the other group was exposed to 16 hours of dark. The light group had a 90% cancer rate. The dark group? 0%.
2) Watch your nutrition – Some people with digestive issues don’t do well eating right before bed. If you’re one of these people, don’t eat before you go to bed. For the rest of you, foods high in monounsaturated fats, such as avocado, olives, olive oil and some nuts, seem to have a calming effect on the body. And don’t drink coffee!
3) EXERCISE! – Yes, exercise will even help you sleep better. Multiple studies show that people who exercise at least 60 minutes a day sleep better than those who exercise less than 60 minutes a day. Enough said.
So next time 9 o’clock rolls around and you’re tired, but you’re trying to decide if you want to stay up to watch another episode of Friends (tempting I know), shut it down. Also, don’t forget to close your blinds at night, you don’t want that sun to peep through and wake you up earlier than you need to.