Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Diet, Exercise & SLEEP!

On New Years Eve did you pledge to begin a new diet or start an exercise regimen to drop a few pounds? If so, you're not alone. Millions of Americans make resolutions regarding health. Well, I challenge you to add "sleep more" to your to-do list. Sleep is an essential factor that is often overlooked. Media and health professionals tell you to eat healthy diets and exercise, but often forget to stress the importance of sleep. Sleep deprivation is associated with everything from an increase in obesity to a decrease in work production. Sleep loss has been shown to affect hormones that regulate appetite. As a result, people who lose sleep may continue to feel hungry despite adequate food intake. Sleep loss may interfere with the body's ability to metabolize carbohydrates, which leads to high levels of blood sugar which can lead to the storage of body fat and insulin resistance, a critical step into the development of diabetes. Additionally, I notice that when I’m tired, my outlook on life is a lot more negative, tasks seem impossible to accomplish and I am overall more anxious.

Try following these tips for getting the most out of your ZZZ's:

  • Go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends, so that your body’s circadian rhythm can sync.
  • Avoid caffeine after 3 pm.
  • Sleep in a cool, dark and quiet. The optimum sleeping temperature is 68 degrees.
  • Create a bedtime ritual, do the same things each night to tell your body that it is time to wind down. This might include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music. Avoid any screen time before bed, as the bright lights interfere with sleep.
  • Limit naps to about 30 minutes in the afternoon. There are many new studies out saying that a 20 minute nap during the day increases productivity and overall well-being in office workers. Naps may need to be longer for athletes for sufficient recovery. 
  • Regular physical activity can promote better sleep, helping you to fall asleep faster.  Timing is important, though. If you exercise too close to bedtime, you might be too energized to fall asleep.
  • Manage stress so that it doesn't keep you up at night. Before bed, write down what's on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow.

Here's to a good night's sleep!


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