Stanford University

Time For Sleep

We all have very busy lives … family duties, our work or careers, taking time to exercise, time to eat, time for chores or errands … Then there's time for social activities, time for hobbies, time to just enjoy the things we like to do … But, do we ever take the time to purposely factor in our sleep time? I'm not talking about going to sleep by default, when everything else gets done, but rather mindfully and purposely scheduling in our sleep time. Consider taking an action step by working backwards, knowing what time you need to get up and allowing for a 7-9 hour night of sleep. In other words, consciously choosing a bed time … Scientists say that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a day. In actuality, 1/3 of us get less than that and there is a dangerous downside to those that are sleep deprived. Beside, the fact that we are not functioning at our highest level, there are many health risks to not allowing the body enough time to repair and rest during sleep. There is a higher risk of disease, such as cardiovascular, diabetes, among others, besides the fact of it greatly affecting our mood. Only 1% or less are 'short sleepers', those requiring 4-6 hours a day. Out of every 100 people who think they need only 5-6 hours of sleep, only 5 people can actually function on that.

How hormones affect your sleep

Lack of sleep is a 'dieter's nightmare'. Leptin and ghrelin are hormones that work together to control feelings of hunger and fullness. Ghrelin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract which stimulates appetite, while leptin is produced in fat cells and sends a signal to the brain when you are full. According to Michael Breus, PhD, a faculty member of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and Director of The Sleep Disorders Centers of Southeastern Lung Care in Atlanta, "When you do not get enough sleep, it drives leptin levels down, which means you do not feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, so you want more food. " The two, he says, can set the stage for overeating, which in turn may lead to weight gain.

Overall performance

Even in sports they are starting to look at how teams travel to different time zones, their body clocks affect their performance. At Stanford University the basketball team added more sleep for their players and hence, added points to their games.

So how much is enough?

One way to measure how much sleep you need is next time you are on a vacation, go to sleep without any alarms and let your body sleep as much as it needs. Measure the amount of time you slept, take the average and that's the amount of sleep you need! Oh, and by the way … teens need about 9 hours of sleep each night … one high school recognized that starting school at an early hour was not in the best interest of their students and so they changed their school hours to accomodate the students' functioning level. So … if we choose to make sleep a high priority, making sure we're getting in enough, 7-9 hours a night, sometimes we will be healthier, not be overweight, be in a better mood, function at a higher level and just enjoy our lives a lot more. I know I find when I do not get enough sleep, my productivity is less that day. I'm interested to know what are some of the things you notice when you are sleep deprived?

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