Sleep. We all know that we need it, but with our 24-hour lifestyles, many people view sleep as a waste of time that could be better spent doing just about anything else.
Problem is, when you skimp on sleep, you’re not only making yourself tired and compromising your ability to fight off everyday ills, you’re also speeding the aging process, driving weight gain, and increasing your risk for diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular problems.
When you get enough sleep, though, you’re treating your body to the greatest body and brain-boosting, anti-aging treatment there is! So the next time you think, “Oh, I can get by on 4 hours,” rethink your sleep strategy and set the alarm for a few hours later or get to bed earlier.
Lack of Sleep Makes You Fat
Under-sleeping disrupts metabolism and hormonal balance in numerous ways, many of which reinforce each other. In fact, too few zzz’s sets the stage for problems far weightier than just frequent yawning – you’re creating the perfect conditions for fat accumulation!
Too little sleep triggers these hormonal fat-makers:
- Too much cortisol — which cues your body to hold on to fat.
- Too much ghrelin — which causes you to get hungry; the higher the levels, the hungrier you’ll be.
- Not enough glucagon — which is essential for fat-burning.
- Not enough leptin — which makes you feel full; come up short and you’ll wind up eating more.
- Not enough human growth hormone (HGH) — which, when levels drop, makes your weight more likely to rise.
- Not enough adiponectin — which helps breakdown fat and promotes insulin sensitivity.
Too Little Sleep Makes You Feel Older, Faster
Lack of sleep is the fast-track to feeling old before your time. Not getting enough quality sleep contributes to many of the pesky problems people write off as simply parts of the aging process. We’re talking weight gain, slowed metabolism, memory issues, brain fog, weakened immunity and low moods — feeling irritable, helpless, easily frustrated, anxious, and/or depressed.
The good news is that aging isn’t often the culprit – it’s simply the lack of sleep. To feel (and look) younger, get a sound seven or eight hours a night, or as close to that as you can manage. Think of it as the cure for premature aging.
Not Enough Sleep Wrecks Your Health
Whether you know it or not, sleep is anything but unproductive — your brain and body are actually very active when you’re down for the count. They’re busy refreshing, repairing and rejuvenating just about every cell in the body, so if you don’t make time for sleep, you’re disabling your body’s ability to recharge and heal itself. In fact, while you’re snoozing, your body is performing a number of essential tasks:
- Muscle repair. When you exercise, muscles break down. Then they rebuild themselves, growing larger and stronger—but only during sleep.
- Brain chemistry balance. When you face a stressful challenge, your brain uses up supplies of key amino acids and other biochemicals, which are restored when you sleep. That’s why you need more sleep, not less, when you’re working extra hard.
- Removal of toxic waste from the brain. A part of the body known as “the glymphatic system” is responsible for clearing toxins from the brain – and it’s only active during sleep.
- Immune support. A library full of studies links lack of sleep to chronic disease but you’ve probably already noticed that on a more immediate level because when you have too much going on, you’ll often catch a cold.
- Pain relief. If you skimp on sleep, your pain threshold tends to drop, so it’s essential to give your parasympathetic nervous system time to let your body rest, digest and heal.
- Memory boosts. Having senior moments or memory lapses? A lack of sleep could be to blame. Sleep is when you consolidate your memories—which means that without sleep your brain has a harder time processing, storing, and, ultimately, retrieving information.
In a nutshell, good, restful sleep keeps you energized and at a healthy weight – so get some of the good stuff tonight! Need to brush up on your sleeping skills? Here are a few pointers:
- Darken your room with blackout curtains and/or get a sleep mask.
- Turn off all electronic devices two hours before bed.
- Eliminate caffeinated beverages completely, and avoid chocolate after 8 p.m.
- We sleep best in cool rooms, and warm beds, so if you’re having trouble sleeping, open the window or put on the AC, and get cozy under a blanket.
Your body can’t perform at its best unless you get enough shut-eye. Lack of sleep not only makes it difficult for you to function throughout the day, but it also sets the stage for weight gain, premature aging and chronic health problems. Aim for seven to eight hours of restful sleep every night for a slimmer, livelier and healthier you!