Now when I started this article the other day it was late---too late to chat about sleep deprivation. I just couldn't give advice when I was absolutely doing the opposite. I went to bed. In what seemed like a few minutes I was awakened. It was not the alarm but a phone call at 4 a.m. from a family member locked out of their house!! How ironic is that? I go to bed to get some sleep and end up awake and on the road to take a set of house keys to someone. It was probably sleep deprivation that caused her to forget the keys.
How much sleep do we need?
The amount of sleep varies, but the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours for most adults. Now zzzs like anything else can vary based on individuals; some people can manage on six hours while others may need ten hours. Sleep needs are also affected by basal sleep, the amount of sleep your body regularly needs for optimum performance and sleep debt which is the accumulated amount of sleep lost due to poor sleep habits, illness or other factors affecting the quality of sleep.
Now you know I'm all about living the well-being lifestyle and cutting back on sleep is not a good thing. Sleeping hours are needed for the body to rest and rejuvenate. Affects of sleep deprivation can include: obesity, heart disease, diabetes, headaches, lack of attention, delayed motor skills.
Obesity: Research indicates that people who do not get enough sleep have a higher risk of becoming obese. The hormones that influence appetite are thrown out of balance; leptin controls hunger and it decreases, which makes you feel hungrier. Ghrelin the hormone produced by fat cells tells the body you need more fat calories, which creates cravings for foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates. This hormonal imbalance sets the stage for late-night binges on snacks that add up to a heavier weight.
People with poor sleep habits are tired and they often magnify the problem when they avoid or eliminate physical exercise. Regular exercise helps reduce stress, burns off calories and increases energy.
Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones, which long-term are not good for the heart. Elevated stress hormones can damage blood vessels, leading to elevated or high blood pressure and heart disease.
This too can be a health challenge affected by lack of sleep. Diabetes has long been linked to obesity and being overweight. The fact that people may weigh more than recommended for their body type can be a predictor of the development of Type 2 Diabetes.
This ailment falls into the discomfort that people identify as "feeling bad" when they are sleep deprived. There is also research indicating that lack of sleep can trigger headaches in predisposed individuals.
Cognition and Motor Skills
Less than the recommended amount of sleep affects cognitive processes--impaired attention, alertness, ability to concentrate, solve problems and use good judgment. Sleep deprivation can also impair motor skills and hand-eye coordination. In addition during the night, various sleep cycles play a role in "consolidating" memories in the mind. When you don't get enough sleep, it can affect your ability to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.
In our overscheduled days, we may consider a good night's sleep a luxury; that is a myth. Sleep is essential and in order to stay healthy we have to make it a priority.
Take Away: Sleep is essential for well-being. Turn off the television, mobile gadgets, personal computers and all those things that are too stimulating when it is time to turn out the lights.
Michelle J. Stewart is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator better known as the Nutrition Planner who has been leading the way to a healthier you for more than 25 years. Michelle is a Certified Wellness Coach whose motto is "EAT LESS MOVE MORE". She is a consultant for the food and beverage industry and offers expertise in corporate wellness, weight loss surgery, menu and product development. All opinions expressed are her own. Sign up for Michelle's Free Report 10 Weight Loss Tips for Life when you visit http://thenutritionplanner.com