Eat right, get enough exercise, get the right beauty products, take the right vitamins and your health your weight and your appearance will be what you want them to be. That sums up the common wisdom on this subject. However, this formula leaves a very important piece of the good health puzzle. Believe it or not that piece is sleep.
Sleep disorder contributes to and can even be the cause of health problems. It can be a major factor in someone becoming obese or in a person's failure to lose weight. Sleeplessness, or poor quality sleep also contributes to skin problems.
Adequate sleep plays a major role in our health and general well-being. This is not open for debate. We have known for a time that good sleep was important, but now we know why. Scientists and researchers have demonstrated in various studies several different ways that poor sleep affects our health.
Sleep deprivation affects the metabolism and the body's ability to process glucose. Sleep deprived people from one study needed to produce thirty percent more insulin in order to properly absorb the glucose into their bodies. It was demonstrated that it was possible to develop Type II Diabetes as a result of inadequate sleep alone.
Poor sleep contributions to obesity.
First, Leptin levels are affected by insufficient sleep. Leptin is a regulatory hormone that helps control appetite. So guess what? Yes, you are right.
When sleeplessness leads to unbalanced Leptin levels over eating follows which leads to, or advances our successful fighting, obesity.
A second way in which sleep deprivation can contribute to obesity is because the body experiences sleeplessness as a form of stress. In fact your body perceives poor sleep the same way that it perceives hunger.
What do you do when you are hungry? You eat; many people do the same thing when over tired. This connection between poor sleep and obesity was confirmed by one recent study. Commissioned by Estee Lauder, that shown 23% of the participants who slept well were obese. Forty four percent of those study participants who were sleep deprived fell into the obese category.
Inadequate sleep causes skin problems.
This is because one of the purposes of sleep is for our growth hormone to increase. Its job is to repair and replace damaged cells. Another function of good sleep is that Cortisol levels go down. Cortisol is a steroid hormone which is associated with the adrenal gland.
The growth hormone, along with its cellular duties, is supposed to help keep the Cortisol levels down. The result of this imbalance is that our collagen, the structural level of the skin, is weakened. This leads to all sorts of skin problems including wrinkles, slow healing wounds, and even in some cases skin cancer.
We know that we need adequate rest, but what is it? How should someone feel if they are well rested? What are some of the causes of sleep deprivation?
Our sleep is sufficient if we feel well rested the next morning. That may sound simplistic, but the truth is the exact amount of time that we need to sleep in order to achieve that goal of restfulness will vary.
The consensus among experts seems to be that adults need seven or eight hours of sleep each night. That will still vary from person to person. If you sleep without waking for eight hours yet continuously wake each morning without energy, you may need nine hours of sleep each night.
Use the recommended amounts as a guideline, but judge the adequacy of your sleep by how you feel the next day.
Sleep deprivation problems can be placed in two different categories.
First there are the problems which arise from our own life choices.
These could be positive choices in their own right. For instance we might be trying to accomplish a goal like excelling in school or learning a degree.
We may have been pressured by circumstances of life to take work that requires long hours. If our children are very young we may very well experience sleeplessness for a time.
Some of the choices that lead to sleep deprivation may not be so positive. If we are choosing to stay up to watch television, or go on the internet, or go out with friends, we can not really blame anyone, but ourselves now can we?
The second category of sleep deprivation is insomnia.
We generally think of insomnia as the inability to fall sleep, it includes that, surely, but it is more useful to think of insomnia as the ability to get the quality of the sleep we need.
You might not lie awake staring at the ceiling for hours at a time, like we often picture the typical insomniac, but you might wake every hour or two and never be able to get into the deep sleep your mind and body need.
We often think of insomnia as being caused by anxiousness and worry. That can certainly be true. It brings to mind an old proverb, 'only a fool lies awake worrying about all his problems because in the morning the problems are still there and he's exhaustedides.
If you are suffering from insomnia or other sleep problems the solution will depend on the cause. For example, if You only get five hours of sleep each night because of your job You might consider developing a plan that will allow you to get the training You need to qualify for a job which will fit in better with the rest of Your life.
Maybe it means taking work with less pay and giving up something to make it work. We are driven, desperate people who work for driven desperate people and things like adequate sleep are often sacrificed to this cultural phenomenon.
Lifestyle changes can sometimes go a long way to increasing the quality of your sleep. We have already discussed not consuming caffeine or nicotine too late in the day. Late naps are also to be avoided. In fact naps in general should be avoided, as they will throw the body's natural cycles off track. If you must nap do it before the afternoon has progressed too far and limit it to a half hour or less.
Some issues may require outside help. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, you certainly need to consult a professional. If you wake frequently to go to the bathroom you may have a health problem which needs attention. If you continue to worry so much you can not sleep some type of counseling may be called for.
There are some other tricks and approaches that can help you get adequate sleep. For example, make sure your room is not too bright or hot. If you work at night wear sunglasses on your way home, and make sure you have dark shades in your room to help your body accept this is sleeping time.
If you wake up in the middle of the night do not lie there, get up and do something and then go back to sleep.
Another strategy is to try, as much as possible, to keep your sleep time on schedule. When it's time to get up do so and when it's time to go to bed, do so. Your body and mind should eventually get the idea that this time is for sleeping.
Sleep, nutrition, and exercise are each legs on the three legged stool of good physical health and mental well-being. The three are interlaced in ways we are only just beginning to understand. Just as sleep can affect the other two, poor nutrition and lack of exercise can contribute to poor sleep.
Be a doer, not just a reader. You know that sleep is important. You know that getting sufficient sleep should not be a treat that we reward ourselves with once or twice a week.
You know it is important to our appearance, our health, and our relationships with others. Do not just absorb that knowledge, do something about it.
Take the time to take stock of your sleep habits. Are you getting the rest you need? If so fine, but if you need to make changes in your life to get the sleep you need, make them. Do not put it off another night.