How to sleep healthy

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February 12, 2014 by ukdesperatehousewifeusa

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I need a lot of sleep.

If I don’t get enough, I am utterly grumpy, can’t function properly, my mind and body are playing catch up and I just eat loads to overcome the tiredness. So sleep, for me, is part of my healthy living regime.

How much sleep do you need?

How much sleep do you need?

Harvard Medical School pretty much confirms all this. A recent survey found that more people are sleeping less than six hours a night, and sleep difficulties visit 75 percent of us at least a few nights per week (that’s me for sure!). A short-lived bout of insomnia is generally nothing to worry about. The bigger concern is chronic sleep loss, which can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system’s power.

While more research is needed to explore the links between chronic sleep loss and health, it’s safe to say that sleep is too important to shortchange.

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:

  1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
  2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
  3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
  4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
  5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
  6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.sleep2

I’m totally with all of the above – sleep is one of the best things ever, and if I could tell my teenage and 20-something self ONE thing, it would be to ENJOY YOUR SLEEP! ‘Never underestimate the power of sleep, young Claire!’

Jillian Michaels, that fitness guru, also warns about too much sleep (really?!). She says that sleeping too much can negatively affect your metabolism.

‘If you sleep 10 hours a night, you might face some of the same hormonal risks as those who sleep too little. A recent Canadian study found that people who sleep fewer than seven hours or more than nine hours weigh an average of four more pounds (and had wider waists) than people who sleep eight hours every night. Researchers believe that having too much or too little sleep interferes with your ability to control your appetite, because it simultaneously increases the hunger hormone, ghrelin, while it decreases the satisfaction hormone, leptin.’

So, if you want to be sure you are getting all the benefits of a good night sleep we do need to rest and perhaps shoot for a consistent eight hours of sleep and stick with the same bed time and wake-up time each day — even on the weekends! I’ll try! 😉

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