Sleep Yourself Healthy

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sleep, sleep and nutrition, sleep and health It might be really lame to say, especially as a 27 year old, but sleeping is one of my all time favorite activities (of course after cooking!)  Nothing feels better to me than crawling into my super comfy bed at night, curling up in my blankets and drifting off into a nice deep sleep.  Even in the afternoon, a nice nap for an hour or two is amazing!  I love sleeping!  I always feel so rejuvenated, fresh and ready to go after a good night’s sleep (or a nap).
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Some people poke fun at me…like a husband who laughs when I’m dozing off at 9:30 pm.  But I can’t help it!  Even as a little kid, I’d fall asleep easily, even if it was in the back of the car, laying down in a booth of a restaurant or on the floor at a family party.  Passed out, every time!

Dario can call me a grandma all he wants.  I know how important my 8.5 hours of sleep really is.  How much of an effect it has on my mental, emotional and physical health.  I know that sleeping deserves a lot more credit than our fast-paced, hard working society allows it.  Chronic lack of sleep or even just a day or two of decreased shut eye can have a big impact on our health and specifically our nutritional health.

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Don’t believe me?  Think about a time (or now) that you’ve been deprived of sleep – either for one or two days, or for a longer period of time.  Now see if any of the below consequences happened to you:

  1.  Many times, people deprived of sleep will feel groggy and sluggish the next day and begin to crave starchy comfort foods aka a chocolate covered donut.  Biologically, your body is craving these foods because they are made of simple sugars and break down quickly into glucose (your body’s energy source).  Once digested it gives you’re body the energy it needs to function.  Sugar and fat-filled breakfasts can lead to weight gain.
  2. Decreased sleep also leads to a change in your metabolism – specifically two hormones (ghrelin and leptin) which have an effect on your appetite and desire to eat.  Grehlin is made in the stomach and let’s your brain know when you’re hungry, while leptin is made in your fat cells and tells your brain when you’re full.  Decreased sleep causes these hormones to be outta whack resulting in increased feelings of hunger and decreased feelings of “fullness.”  Wow – double bad!
  3. Sleepy mornings and groggy days also lead to decreased physical activity.  If you’re barely making it your lunch break without snoozing at your desk, the chances of going to the gym after work severely decrease.  Less physical activity can lead to weight gain too.
  4. If you’re trying to lose weight, decrease sleep will impair your body’s ability to lose weight.  In fact, decreased sleep makes your body to want to “hold on” to that excess weight .  The exact mechanism behind this is still unclear, but most scientists believe it has to do with a disruption in your metabolism due to the decreased sleep.
  5. If you’re staying up late at night, working or having fun, those extra hours awake can cause your body to “need” another meal.  You’re body will naturally want more sustenance every 4 hours or so.  Usually we sleep through this time, but if not our body will signal us to eat a “4th meal.”  And no, Taco Bell is not correct – we do not need a fourth meal (see above picture)!  Otherwise, that 4th meal will cause additional weight gain.

 

You tell me!  How much sleep do you get every night?  What happens when you’re sleep deprived?  What are your ideal sleeping conditions?

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