Sleep, Snooze, Nap, Doze, and Dream

sleeping puppies

These dogs know what’s up! (Photo: PicPetz.com)

We’ve all heard people say “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” but what you might not know is that you’ll be dead a lot sooner if you skimp on sleep. You might think you’re getting more ‘life’ out of your day by going to bed late or waking up early, but even though you’ll have more time for the moment, you’re cutting your life short.

I came across and article recently that really made me realize how important sleep is. I always heard it was important, but I never knew sleep was that important. I’ve compiled lots of research to help you understand how important sleep really is. Health isn’t just about diet and exercise; it’s also about living a healthy lifestyle. This means taking care of yourself, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Sleep plays a role in all three!

So let’s start with the basics. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Getting fewer hours of sleep can lead to stress, irritability, moodiness, poor concentration, grumpiness, and sluggishness. You might even experience slowed speech, poor judgement and decision making, impaired memory, and the inability to multitask. This is common sense. We’ve all had days when our brains are foggy from lack of sleep.

Here’s where it gets really scary. According to the Huffington Post, just one week of getting 6 hours of sleep per night can lead to over 700 genetic changes. If you only get 6 hours of sleep for one week, you’ll have four times the risk of stroke and a 48% higher risk of dying of heart disease when compared to someone getting adequate sleep. Lack of sleep also increases your risk for osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Healthline explains in great detail how a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain. If you don’t get enough sleep, your hormones get thrown off, particularly leptin and ghrelin. These hormones help regulate your appetite by telling your brain when you’re hungry and when you’ve had enough to eat. Those who average only 6 hours of sleep per night are 27% more likely to be overweight. Not only is this because your hormones are confused, but also because you’ll be lacking the mental and physical energy to exercise.

Have you ever noticed that after a late night or early morning, you want food? Whenever I don’t get enough sleep, I always want carbs. I also want to sit on the couch and be lazy, but that’s beside the point…

Food cravings + poor judgement from lack of sleep = unhealthy food choices (and ultimately weight gain if repeated over time).

Now you’re probably thinking, “well, I can always catch up on sleep during the weekend or take a nap later.” This is true, but only to a certain extent. Don’t get me wrong – naps are my best friend, and if I could, I’d nap every day. Sleeping in on weekends and napping will help, but they won’t fix the problem. Think of it like debt. Naps are like paying only the minimum monthly payment on a credit card. It’ll keep you afloat, but you’ll never be fully caught up. I’m definitely not telling you to stop napping – I’m a HUGE fan! Just remember, playing catch-up on sleep isn’t the best.

Now that you know the facts about lack of sleep, you just need some tips to help you get enough shut-eye! My next post will give you tips on how to fall asleep faster, get enough sleep, and sleep better throughout the night.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to nap today!! I’ll be taking my own advice 🙂

 

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