Could a lack of sleep be detrimental to my health?
I’ve mentioned how important sleep is for your overall wellbeing before; I know how grumpy I feel if I haven’t had a good night’s sleep!
But did you know that a lack of sleep can also have a knock on effect for how the rest of your day goes? You probably can’t be bothered to do a workout if you’re tired and chances are you’ll reach for quick-fix snacks instead of your usual healthy shakes and nutritious meals.
But, did you know that sleep (or lack of) could also have a serious impact on your long-term health in ways we are still discovering?
Insulin spikes for non-sleepyheads
A study comparing people who had a full 8-hour stretch of sleep for 4 consecutive nights with those who only had 4.5 hours each night showed some surprising results…
The sleep-deprived participants:
Aged metabolically by 10-20 years
Blood insulin responses reduced by 16%
The amount of REM (good quality) sleep decreased by half
What does a lack of sleep mean for long-term health?
If these conditions continue over time, people who consistently receive fewer than 6 hours of sleep each night are at a greater risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes. This is due to the body being unable to regulate the insulin levels appropriately and the fat cells in your body holding on to more fat, instead of burning it for fuel.
Why are we not getting enough sleep?
Well this list could be endless! From tired momas with young kids, execs pushing 80-hour work weeks, too many insomnia inducing distractions on TV and video game screens, to worry, anxiety and stressful lives… we all have our load to bear!
But, aside from feeling so much better and happier when we have consistent, high quality sleep, the health benefits cannot be ignored.
So how can you help yourself to stay healthy and get more sleep?
We’re all so different and have various ways to relax and enjoy our rest, but here are some tips that might help you to get your sleep fix…
Aim for 7-9 hours per night, consistently – you can’t really ‘catch up’ on sleep on weekends (sorry, it’s not how it works!)
Try to get up at around the same time each day to get your body’s sleep pattern into order.
Identify your own sleep signals and listen to them – yawning, being quiet, rubbing eyes – just like babies, adults also have sleep cues, but we become good at ignoring them.
Limit food and drink intake in the hour before bed – this should reduce indigestion and the need for multiple trips to the toilet overnight. This is especially the case for alcohol and caffeine – big no no’s before bedtime!
Make your bedroom a nice, cosy, welcoming space so you instantly feel relaxed. Remove items such as laptops, iPads and phones and anything else (like ‘to do’ lists) that might make you anxious and keep you from sleeping.
Make your bed when you get up. It feels so much nicer to slip into a well-made and clean bed and can become part of your pre-sleep relaxation and wind down.
Wear something nice to sleep in (or nothing if you prefer!) Cotton and natural fibres help to regulate your temperature better so you’re not freezing or sweating.
Avoid harsh, bright lights in your sleeping space. Add soft lighting or candles to create a nice ambience. (Just remember to blow the candles out!)
Experiment with various aromatherapy oils and set up a diffuser to create a calm, relaxing space. Lavender is a nice sleep inducing scent.
Have a warm bath with Epsom salts to relax muscles before bedtime – include some chilled out music and create your own spa in your bathroom!
Meditation and yoga can also be great pre-bedtime rituals to relax your body and mind and switch off from the world.
Along with a healthy approach to eating and exercising, sleep is just as important a factor in your health and long-term wellbeing, so please don’t overlook this important part of your journey! Don’t let a lack of sleep be the reason you’re not achieving your health and weight loss goals.
What other tips can you share to get a good night’s sleep?