Is Sleep Making You Fat?
Ever missed those school holidays when all you did was spend your entire day sprawled on your warm, comfy bed? Sadly, part of the tragic pain of growing up in a IT-enhanced world is that the modern day early bird might not get the worm after all, assuming that the rest of the birds already stayed up all night digging for food in the ground.
The thing though is that while we might have found shortcuts around traveling long distances and information sharing, there is no medically safe way around forcing yourself to not fall asleep.
While you may be unconscious during sleep, your brain is still kept busy processing and preparing you for the next day while your body is resting and repairing itself which is why prolonged absence of rest can cause both mental and physical breakdowns.
Children and teenagers especially should regularly practice sleeping regularly as growth hormones are released while they sleep.
The Problem with Sleeping Too Little:
Most healthcare experts believe that those above the age of 18 should be getting anywhere between seven and a half to nine hours worth of sleep.
Short changing yourself by only one hour might not impair your motor functions, but it can actually cause you to process and store information slower and it also puts your body at higher risk of developing cardiovascular problems and infections.
This also means that you would be far more susceptible to binge on food as your brain will take a while to process the feeling of fullness sent from your gut.
If you didn’t already notice, people who haven’t slept in days aren’t exactly the happiest bunch of human beings either.
Instead, they would be more than likely to be highly irritable and angry with zero sense of humor, which would make sense as those who skip sleeping also fail in the creativity and math department.
Physically, folks who skimp on sleep also tend to sport unhealthy pale, sallow skin not unlike zombies walking in daylight.
Insufficient sleep also means that you won’t have the energy to perform physical stunts as well, such as weight lifting or cardio activities, which would then lead to further weight gain in the long term.
The Problem with Sleeping Too Much:
Did you know that you can sleep for more than 9 hours and still feel tired?
This fatigue (also known as excessive daytime fatigue) is caused by poor sleep quality often brought upon by nightmares, stress and worry.
Just like how the lack of sleep will leave you feeling sluggish and out of control with your body, over sleeping can also cause overeating as your body will be too out of synch to realize that it is already full.
In a recent study, people who slept for an average of nine to ten hours were more 21% likely to become obese within six years, as opposed to people who sleep the average amount of eight hours despite the fact that both groups consumed the same amount of food and did the same amount of exercises.
Besides being much more susceptible to weight gain, those who slept over nine hours also had a 50% higher chance of developing diabetes as well, which suggests that oversleeping could be a symptom of said medical problem.
Of course, lying still for so long can also lead to headaches, depression and back pain. Interesting enough, doctors recommend that patients undergo physical activity whenever they experience back pain from sleeping too long.
A more serious effect of oversleeping is the development of coronary heart disease in women. Specifically, those who slept for eleven hours every day were 38% likelier of developing heart problems as opposed to their counterparts who slept the regular amount of hours.
If you are regularly oversleeping without any probably cause, it is always a good idea to visit your local medical practitioner for a health check.
The Art of Falling Asleep:
Our bodies are naturally tuned to falling asleep and waking up at certain hours, depending on the amount of sunlight we are subjected to.
After sunset, melatonin is produced by our body which triggers the feeling of sleepiness. When the sun is up, the production of melatonin is halted, which then helps us wake up and become alert.
If you are having trouble falling asleep after a long day, it could be because you have been travelling across time zones or have simply been subjected to too much artificial lighting (which tricks your body into thinking that it is still daytime).
The good news is that anyone can gradually readjust their sleeping schedule.
To do this, all you need to do is sleep earlier (or wake up later) by one to two hours until you’ve achieved the ideal sleep pattern. Overtime, you will then find yourself becoming automatically sleepy and waking up at a certain hour.
Avoiding daytime napping and increasing your physical activities can also help you get tired out faster, and hence fall asleep faster at night.
Waking Up Happier:
If you are guilty of pressing the Snooze button on your alarm clock more than once every morning, then do not feel too bad about it as most of us are simply not equipped with the much needed discipline.
Instead of berating yourself and feeling lousy for waking up late (again!), appoint someone to give you a morning call or leave your windows wide open before you fall asleep so that your body will automatically register that it’s morning.
This article is brought to you by Mimi Delores, the author of StayFabulousAndHealthy.com