Sleep Your Way to Better Health

I once heard a great Irish proverb that has stuck with me throughout my life, ‘A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.’ These days Americans are getting less and less sleep every year. Currently only 40 percent of the U.S. gets the recommended eight hours, on average receiving only 6.8 hours per night. While a short-lived bout of insomnia is generally nothing to worry about, long term sleep loss can really throw a dagger in your overall well-being and health. This month I would like to challenge you all to get a good nights rest. If you think you’re in need of some shut eye, join this month’s #30daysleepchallenge to learn how a good night’s sleep will help you be more productive during waking hours.

How Losing ZZZs Can Harm Your Health

Research has shown that most Americans would be happier, healthier and safer if they were to sleep an extra 60 to 90 minutes per night.

So why aren’t we snoozing? Stress is the number one cause of sleep difficulties. 48% of people report lying awake due to stress. We have too much to do and not enough time, but instead of respecting the boundary of sleep, we nudge precious minutes to hours off our sleep each night.

Stress is directly linked to poor health. According to the American Stress Institute 77% of Americans experience physical symptoms of stress regularly and 73% experience psychological symptoms. These include fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, hemorrhoids, digestive issues, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle tension, memory loss, fertility issues, teeth grinding, increased risks for heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, changes in appetite, changes in sex drive, dizziness, irritability, and anger.

Whew. That’s a lot of crap!

Both quantity and quality of sleep are important. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation, and release of hormones that regulate our appetite. With not enough good quality sleep, we wake up unprepared to concentrate, make decisions, or engage fully in work, family, and social activities.

Could Your Lack of Sleep be Affecting Your Weight? sleep clock

If you think you can survive on 6 hours of sleep, think again. Our body needs between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, however most people put more importance on physical well being, including food and exercise than mental well being which includes being rested. There is a strong link between sleep, appetite, and weight. According to a recent study published in PLoS Medicine people who receive less than 7 hours of sleep each night have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI).

Lack of sleep elevates ghrelin, the “hunger hormone”  –so  if you’ve felt “tired and hungry” with strong craving for carbs, sugar, fat or  “comfort foods” that is your body looking for energy, when actually it needs to be energized through better sleep. Instead of reaching for a quick sugar fix, close your eyes and reenergize.

Stop Counting Sheep – Join the #30daysleepchallenge!

Be sure to join this month’s #30daysleepchallenge. All you have to do is “follow” me on Facebook , Twitter or Pinterest. I’ll be posting motivations, and many more tips and tricks to help you get more zzz’s. I’d love to hear from you too! Be sure to share you thoughts and I’ll be responding to your questions EVERY SINGLE DAY. Use the primary hashtag #30daysleepchallenge and #mefirst as the secondary hashtag.

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