Increasing numbers of us are feeling tired a lot of the time and are being encouraged to take time out of our daily busy schedules to enjoy 20 minutes or more of well-being activities to help.
The positive health effects of sleep, healthy eating and exercise are well known, but studies are proving that well-being tools are giving us the stress relief and reflection time we need to perform more effectively rather than rushing ill-planned into the next ‘problem’ with which we must deal. These tools promote better quality sleep and decision making, reducing stress, freeing-up time and recharging our batteries.
Now that the ‘party season’ is well underway, and food and drink are consumed to excess, it is our weight and sleep which become the losers. Due to the increase in bugs around in the Winter due to the changing temperatures, our immune systems suffer through lack of sleep. Our 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day and exercise routine also tend to go out of the window, which leaves us particularly vulnerable to contracting colds and ‘flu.
Although we may still be lucky enough to sleep for the recommended 7 hours+ per night on occasion, after alcohol consumption our sleep is of poor quality; it is interrupted by the combined effects of dehydration and the need to urinate due to its diuretic effect, preventing the full healing effects of sleep.
Lack of quality sleep also has been linked to an increase in weight gain. It doesn’t take a long time, or a lot of sleep deprivation, to bring the weight on. A fascinating study from researchers at the University of Colorado found that one week of sleeping about 5 hours a night led participants to gain an average of 2 pounds! Poor sleep causes multiple changes to our bodies which can lead to weight gain, including changes to hormones that regulate appetite.
The hormone Leptin suppresses appetite and encourages the body to expend energy. Sleep deprivation reduces Leptin. Conversely, the hormone Ghrelin goes up, triggering feelings of hunger. So to add to our tiredness woes, sleep deprivation creates more intense sugar or fat-laden food cravings, adding to your likely weight gain. This becomes a vicious cycle as the heavier and more tired we become, the less likely we are to do exercise, and this in turn leads us to sleep and eat worse!
Previously, in my ‘Battling Stress at Work’ Health Blog (see link below), I have already discussed the Top 10 stress busters and underlined the need to eliminate stress and alcohol to sleep well. The article also looked into how taking Vitamin D could help you sleep if your levels are low on blood testing. Research suggests that around half of adults in the U.K. are deficient due to our bodies having no ability to make it in the Winter, and a lack of sunlight even in the Summer coupled with a long working hours culture keeping us indoors. Recent studies show Vitamin D Deficiency plays a part in causing poor sleep as it is actually a hormone and inversely related to Melatonin, your sleep hormone. It is worth visiting your GP if you cannot shake off constant tiredness as thyroid problems or something more sinister may also be the cause.
So we can conclude from this that again, sleep appears to be our magic remedy for staying healthy in mind and body and anything we can do to assist deep and uninterrupted rest will help us keep off the mounting Christmas bulge!
You can find more information about tiredness and the links to weight gain from Lucy’s source below, click to follow the link: thesleepdoctor.com/2018/04/10/sleep-deprivation/
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