Monday, January 11, 2010

Sleep and Health

(as heard on Calvary 88.5 1/11/10)

For many, it is common sense that to stay healthy and fit you need to have balance and nutritious eating habits as well as an active lifestyle. I think what many of us forget though, is that even if we are the most healthy eaters ever and exercise every day, we can be ruining our hard work and putting our bodies at risk if we don’t get enough sleep.

We need sleep to survive…much like food and water. Experts say we need between 7 and 8 hours a night to be at our best. Only one-third of Americans report that they get enough sleep, the rest, are lacking. The benefits of sleep are vast and necessary for survival.

Benefits of Sleep:

  • Sleep repairs the body
  • Improves our memory
  • Keeps your heart healthy
  • Reduces stress
  • Helps with your weight loss goals

When we do not get enough sleep (at the very minimum, 6 hours a night) can be tragic to our health.

Consequences of not sleeping enough:

· Loss of memory

· Decreased alertness

· Increased cholesterol

· Raised blood pressure

· Increased risk of getting sick due to a weakened immune system

· Decrease of important of leptin (the hormone that tells us we are full) and an increase of ghrelin (the hormone that tells us we are hungry)

According to National Geographic, when compared to the person who gets the average recommended amount of sleep (7-8 hours per night), the risk of obesity increases 23% when a person gets just 6 hours of sleep up to a whopping 73% when a person only gets 4 hours of sleep per night. That right there are some scary numbers and definitely enough so to make me willing to go to bed an hour or so earlier.

And we don’t just put our own health at risk when we don’t get enough sleep. Drowsy driving is responsible for 4% of all motor vehicle crashes every year. That means that your lack of sleep can hurt others.

So keep sleep in mind when thinking of your health. It’s a requirement. No one wants to be more stressed, put their heart at more risk for heart disease (#1 killer of both men and women in US) or and gain unnecessary weight. Get your sleep! Aim for 7-9 hours a night.

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