Is Sleep the Missing Link to a Healthy Lifestyle?

Our generation has become more health conscience than our parents were.  We watch our calories and chemicals, follow the best advice for healthy eating and get plenty of exercise.  Despite this, obesity is still a large problem and diabetes is on the rise.  In our crazy busy lives, are we missing something as simple as a good night's sleep?

Studies have shown that getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night, can in fact have a positive effect on weight loss, and maintaining a healthy weight.  A third of the American

Online health Coach Seay Stanford
Online health Coach Seay Stanford

adult population gets less than 5 hours of sleep a night and the same percentage suffers from diabetes. It's not a coincidence. This prolonged pattern of sleep deprivation does have negative consequences to your health.

You could be undoing all the hard work in the gym and sabotaging your healthy eating patterns by causing issues with your frontal lobe. That’s the part of the brain that is responsible for major decisions and acts as the reward center for the brain. It manages the hunger hormones, dictates your cravings and can cause problems when you get little or no sleep for an extended period of time. Your brain needs to rest, repair and rejuvenate each night and it takes more than a measly 5 hours to do so.

A lack of sleep throws off your balance of energy and tissue function, leading to an imbalance of the hunger regulating hormones that cause you to binge eat.  Your brain begins to crave high fat, high sugar and high-energy foods that are detrimental your weight loss goals.  That bowl of steamed veggies does nothing to satisfy an empty brain.

Researchers at the University of Chicago found that over a two-week period a group of dieters getting 8.5 hours of sleep were more likely to lose a high percentage weight from fat than the group only getting 5 hours of sleep.  Both groups lost weight, but not the same percentage of fat loss.

A brain and body continually deprived of 7-9 hours of sleep will increase the body’s fat storage and decrease insulin sensitivity.  Prolonged insulin sensitivity leads to type-2 diabetes, and a host of other health issues such as heart disease, obesity and even heart failure.

A healthy lifestyle needs to include a good night’s sleep with an average of 7-9 hours of sleep to keep your body well-regulated and better able to metabolize fat.  Sleep will keep your energy levels even and help make your work outs effective.  It will keep you from reaching for the junk food and tame those nasty sugar cravings.

I know some people who live by the motto “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”.  Sadly, if you are one of those you may be closer to that nap than you want to be.  Turn it around and make 7-9 hours of sleep as much of a priority as clean eating, and daily workouts.

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