New Year, New Rested You!

sleep on january 1

Sleep, Hunger & Weight Gain

Too little sleep has a well-documented relationship with weight gain and obesity, but the pathway by which a lack of shut-eye impacts the waistline is not yet totally understood. However, a number of studies shed light on various aspects of this complicated relationship.

It may be that people who skimp on sleep simply have more opportunity to eat. Short sleepers who stay up late seem to be more likely to consume late-night snacks and more calories in general. Fatigue also seems to cloud the mind in a way that makes it more difficult to select nutritious food options and easier to fill grocery carts with high-calorie, impulse buys. And on top of it all, not getting enough sleep seems to trigger hunger, likely due to an imbalance of the hormones that control those pangs. In a small 2012 study, researchers found that short sleep increased levels of ghrelin, which triggers hunger, in men, and lowered levels of an appetite-suppressing hormone called GLP-1 in women, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Sleep & Memory

During the rapid eye movement or REM stage of sleep the brain continues to be active, as if it were awake. That's why this phase is so commonly the one associated with the learning and memory functions of sleep. Part of the restorative nature of sleep may transport memories from short-term to long-term storage, according to a 2013 study. The brain degeneration associated with skimping on sleep makes some of this impossible.

Sleep & Longevity

Skimping on sleep increases your risk not only for potentially life-threatening health crises like stroke, heart attack and cancer, it also ups your chances of dying younger from any cause. People who regularly got less than six hours of sleep a night were 12 percent more likely to die over a 25-year period than people who slept between six and eight hours a night, according to a study published in the journal SLEEP, the BBC reported.

So What Can You Do?

It's as good a time as ever to commit to more -- or simply better -- sleep. There are even things you can do tonight, says Avidan, like reserving the bedroom for sleep and sex only or avoiding caffeine later in the day. "Television is my number one enemy as a sleep physician," he says, especially if that boob tube is in the bedroom, since it emits disruptive artificial light.

Try making a sleep resolution this year, like pledging to leave your phone outside the bedroom or to finally talk to your doc about your snoring. Or maybe this is the year you stop saying things like, "I'll sleep when I'm dead!" and start prioritizing your shut-eye just like you do your gym time.

Source: Huffington Post

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