How much sleep do you need? Many working Americans sleep too little, but did you know you can sleep too much? According to studies on sleep and mortality, insufficient AND excessive sleep can shorten your life.
The Reason to Sleep
- Repairs cells/tissues*
- Maintains appetite hormone levels
- Controls blood sugar
- Defends against harmful substances
*Healing and repairing cells, tissues, and blood vessels help build bone and muscle mass.
Lack of Sleep: Immediate and Long-term Health Effects
- Diminished cognitive function
- Increased levels of cortisol (stress hormone) which cause the following:
- Increased appetite
- Increased body weight
- Increased visceral (belly) fat
- Increased risk for type 2 diabetes
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased chronic low-level inflammation which leads to chronic disease (such as, coronary artery disease, dementia, and stroke)
Are You Sleeping Less and Eating More?
Sleep affects the hormones, leptin and ghrelin, that signal when you’re full (leptin) as well as when you need to eat (ghrelin). Researchers found that normal weight young men ate nearly 550 more calories after getting only 4 hours of sleep compared to 8. An additional 550 calories a day could result in gaining over a pound a week, that is, an extra 55-60 pounds in a year.
Signs of Sleep Deprivation
- Drowsy during the day — especially in the morning
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Falling asleep when inactive (or as soon as your head hits the pillow)
If Seven is Good, Is Eight Better?
Many people believe that they need at least eight hours of sleep a night for good health. But a six-year American Cancer Society study of 1.1 million men/women revealed that sleeping seven hours per night had the best survival rates.
Sleeping Durations Linked to Mortality
- 8 or more hours per day
- Less than 6 hours per day
Causes of death associated with sleep duration (too little or too much) include:
- Heart disease
- Cancer, particularly breast and colon
- Stroke (Deaths from stroke were highest in men and women who slept 8, 9, and 10 or more hours.)
- ‘Other causes’
Karen’s Fit Tip: Make sleep a priority. Put it at the TOP of your list of things to do and adjust accordingly. If you don’t have time for those things at the bottom of the list, that’s okay. Think long-term. Remember… if you don’t sleep enough, you’ll be shortening your lifetime To-Do List.