Better Sleep, Better Body
By: Brigette Vinson
It is important to understand how health and sleep are linked. Feeling revitalized each morning is important to mental health and is a building block for a less stressful day. Restful sleep can also curb other unhealthy habits, such as overeating. Researchers working with the Mayo Clinic have found that people who were deprived of sleep ate more than 500 additional calories daily†. These extra calories can lead to weight gain over time if physical activity levels are not increased to offset this additional energy intake.
Why does this happen?
The relationship between sleep, eating, and weight gain is very complex. It involves the way hormones are stored and released in the body. Men under restricted sleep conditions tend to release more ghrelin – a hormone that stimulates the feeling of hunger. Men in this study were likely to feel hungrier and had larger appetites than the men who were allowed adequate rest. Sleep-deprived women show lower levels of GLP-1 – a hormone that suppresses appetite. The women in the study felt less full; and therefore, ate more.
There are many reasons that we don’t get a good night’s rest: worry and stress, indigestion, and poor sleeping conditions are just a few. Below are some tips to help battle these sleep-stealers.
1. Relax. The human body needs about thirty minutes of quiet time to fully relax and prepare for restorative sleep. Take a warm bath, use aromatherapy lotions, drink warm tea or milk, or read a book. A combination of any of these techniques, if used consistently, can help you fall into a better sleep.
2. Quiet Your Mind. Journaling is an effective way to put any bothersome issues on paper and out of mind. Deep breathing exercises can also help relieve the stresses of the day.
3. Create a Sleep Oasis. Make sure your bedroom is used for sleeping only. Having TVs, computers, and paperwork around can distract your mind from achieving a restful state. In some situations, blackout curtains, earplugs and eye covers might be necessary to cancel out any distractions.
4. Get Cozy. A supportive mattress and pillow, warm or cool-weather blankets, and comfortable night clothes are important.
5. Set a Schedule. Going to bed and waking at the same times each day reinforces your body’s sleep-wake schedule and allows you to fall asleep easier at night.
6. Exercise. Regular physical activity releases stress. Exercising three hours before bedtime allows enough time for your body to calm down.
7. Limit Nicotine, Caffeine and Alcohol. Contrary to popular belief, these act as stimulants and can disrupt or suppress deep sleep.
For more information on better sleep, visit www.cdc.gov/sleep.
†Reference article: http://healthland.time.com/2012/03/15/why-sleep-deprivation-may-lead-to-overeating/
Brigette Vinson is on staff with the Exchange and coordinates the Operation: BEFIT program.