Now that the summer is winding down and busy schedules are upon us, healthy eating and daily exercise sometimes falls through the cracks of our priorities. Though we may not be able to change our hectic schedules to meet the demands of healthy living, we can slip bits and pieces of health into our daily lives.
There is one incredible easy thing that we can all do every day to help our bodies acquire and maintain health. SLEEP. Yes, I said sleep! Sleep is as essential to our bodies as water and air. Some studies show that without enough sleep, our bodies can suffer from hormonal imbalance.
These imbalances can cause incorrect signals to the brain about hunger, causing us to think we should be eating when, in fact, we are full. When we have these incorrect signals, we eat foods that are richer in density and higher in calories. This can cause weight gain and water retention. You can read more on this study here.
When we get adequate sleep time every night, we are also less likely to graze on high calorie foods throughout the day. When our bodies are tired, we naturally crave sugar laden foods to ensure a sugar rush. This takes a great toll on bodies when repeated regularly. Risks like type two diabetes lurk in the shadows when we eat too much sugar and carbohydrates in an effort to counteract the effects of sleep deprivation.
But, how much sleep is enough? There are many different studies on this topic and most have similar results. One study, which you can access here suggests that there is no “magic number” of hours people should sleep per night.
This study states that every age group, and every individual within that age group, has different sleep needs. Another study gives these “magic numbers” along with the age groups that coincide with the amount of sleep needed. This study tells us that an adult needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, and some may need up to 10 hours each night.
How do we know if we are not getting enough sleep? By simply listening to our bodies and responding appropriately to the messages we are getting. The most obvious way to gauge whether or not you are receiving enough sleep is your level of energy.
If you are tired throughout the day, you probably need more sleep. Craving sugary foods and caffeine is another clue to sleep deprivation. If you experience difficulty when driving or trying to focus on any one task, you may want to assess your sleep patterns and length of sleep.
There are many risks to not getting enough sleep. The rewards of a full night’s sleep every night are well worth the extra hour or two you stay in bed. Changing your sleep pattern is not an easy task.
Be sure to have a relaxed environment in your bedroom and keep stimulating items, colors, and sounds out of the bedroom. Limit television time when you are in bed. Use the bathroom before slumber and keep water nearby.
With a little bit of relaxation and a few hours a night, you can sleep your way to health. How convenient!