Many people attribute every aspect of their physical health and well-being to diet and exercise. While these two points are crucial to living healthy lives, sleep is often neglected. When sleep suffers, so does one’s quality of life.
Sleep deprivation is a real thing.
The long term effects of sleep deprivation have been studied extensively and it goes far beyond being tired. There have been studies done at many universities throughout the country which have shed light on the issue.
A study at the University of Chicago showed sleep deprived people ate more simple carbs than those who experienced adequate sleep. These simple carbs include food items like cakes and cookies, which are loaded with empty calories. Research also shows the hormones Ghrelin and Leptin are directly influenced by sleep.
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People getting less than seven hours of shut-eye have higher ghrelin levels than leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone made in the stomach to tell the brain it is hungry. Conversely, leptin tells the brain no food is needed.
Those sleeping less than seven hours have been shown to gain more weight and have trouble losing weight. This goes for kids, too, not just adults. This seven hour mark seems to be the magic mark, as adults sleeping less than that are shown to have less pre-frontal cortex activity in the brain. This could account for impulsive behavior when sleep deprived.
Sleep deprivation also speeds up the aging process. No one needs to hurry that along.
What is a hungry, impulsive, tired person to do?
Increasing the amount of hours of quality sleep is imperative. Seven hours seems to be the magic number of hours needed to regulate normal biological and neurological activities. Many factors go into ensuring the seven-hour goal is met.
Set up a regular bedtime ritual. Partaking of the same behaviors, at the same times each night, may help to prepare you, both mentally and physically, for sleep. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, prayer – these things can all help to calm brain activities and increase relaxation.
Avoid heavy meals rich in proteins and fats prior to bedtime. These types of food may increase the incidence of heartburn, acid reflux, and/or GERD. These conditions can wake you up.
Stay away from caffeine in your afternoons. Consuming caffeine, the stimulant in coffee and some chocolates, sodas, and teas, later in the day may keep you awake.
Make sure you eat a well balanced diet. The nutrients lycopene, vitamin C, and selenium have all been found aid in sleep. Lycopene is found in red foods, like tomatoes; vitamin C is found in citrus and other fruits and also peppers; and good sources of selenium are some tree nuts (Brazil nuts, etc), tuna, sardines and grass-fed beef.