Monday, January 25, 2010

Are You Getting Enough?

Learning that about 2/3 of the American population is overweight shouldn't come as a surprise:

  • Only about 25% of the adult population is involved with structured exercise regularly
  • The average adult eats about 3,300 calories each day, nearly double of what is needed for the "average" person

But there’s more to the obesity equation than just those two pieces. And it’s often forgotten in the quest for weight loss and simply optimal health.

It is Sleep. Getting’ your zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s.

And data continues to mount suggesting an association between lack of sleep and weight gain. Some data even suggests an increased risk of diabetes because of the hormones that are affected in the body with lack of sleep.

Outside of those diseases, lack of adequate sleep has been shown to affect your ability to:

  • Recall everyday items
  • Deal with stress
  • Solve problems
  • Ward off heart disease
  • Maintain a healthy body weight

Pretty scary, right? It doesn't just stop there, but those are some of the "heavy hitters" that not getting enough rest can lead to.

So, yeah, it’s THAT important and clearly part of the obesity equation as well.

Researchers suggest there are some hormonal factors that play a role in the lack of sleep causing weight gain. It may also be as simple as when a person is awake longer, they ultimately get hungry and eat more. Pretty straightforward. Likewise, when you’re up late, the foods you choose aren’t usually things like a mixed green salad. Instead, it’s high calorie, high fat items.

On the other end, if you're exhausted the next day and trying to focus and stay awake at work — what do you do? Turn to foods…again, often "quick energy" things, like high sugar items.

It’s a vicious cycle.

How much sleep do you REALLY need? Experts suggest around 8 hours each night for adults. Some say they can "function" on very little, but sleep experts don't agree.

Here are 5 specific strategies that can help you get a better night’s sleep. That solid nights rest can literally change your life!

  1. Exercise regularly — but as far away from bedtime as possible. It has been shown that the quality of your sleep won’t be as sound when your body/brain are still “revving.”
  2. Lay off the caffeine – save the cup o’ Joe or tea for the AM (even decaff products, since those still have some caffeine too, and try to avoid caffeine sources in the afternoon).
  3. Try to go to bed around the same time and wake up the same time EACH night. This helps reinforce your body’s sleep/wake cycle.
  4. Wind down – build in quiet time before bed. It could mean taking a relaxing bath or reading a book. That means you’re not watching TV, texting, emailing, etc. Pick up a book and read a bit if you’d like, but slow down the mind to prepare for a restful night.
  5. Aim for at 8 hours of sleep per night. Some may be thinking this sounds impossible, but when we’re looking specifically at obesity, those who sleep less, weigh more. Sleep experts seem to agree that 8 hours is sufficient for most people.

Isn't it nice that something as enjoyable as sleeping more can do SO much for you?

Follow this link to learn other ways to stop gaining weight — it's your friends fault!

And this article talks about how to eat more to weigh less

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