Our hectic lifestyle choices have left us with little time for sleep. Sleep deprivation results in more than just a bad day. Animal studies have indicated that lack of sleep can, literally, be a life threat.
A study published in Diabetes Care, an American Diabetes Association journal, indicates that disturbed or reduced sleep is associated with glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Other studies have also found a link between short cycles of sleep and increased risk of stroke. Adequate zzzs, on the other hand, mean increased productivity, improved immunity and a better mood.
So how much sleep do you need? Most experts agree that an average adult needs 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Here are signs that may suggest you’re skimping on sleep.
You’re snacking on bad-for-you foods.
A research, published in The American Journal of Human Biology revealed how inadequate sleep can impact appetite regulation and blood sugar levels. Short sleep duration is associated with more ghrelin, a hunger-stimulating hormone, in your body. This means that if you haven’t had a good night’s sleep you are more likely to throw your regular diet out of the window and be drawn to consume more calories. In the long run, consuming calorie-rich foods, such as sugary drinks and doughnuts, without adequate energy expenditure leads to weight gain. Therefore, studies have also linked sleep loss with obesity.
You catch colds more easily.
Adequate sleep translates into better immune system. A Carnegie Mellon study found that adequate sleep (8 hours per night) can make you 30% less likely to develop a cold. During sleep our immune system releases certain proteins called cytokines which help fight infections.
It can take several weeks to repay your sleep debt (depending on how long you have been depriving yourself). However, here’s how to defog your mind and get more sleep.
Reasearch shows that 20 to 30 minute long naps can help ward of fatigue. It is best to schedule a power nap post-lunch, when your energy levels take a plunge. Keep it less than 30 minutes to ensure that you don’t enter the deep sleep cycle which is difficult to wake up from and will leave you groggier than before.
Limit Your Cuppa
The cup of coffee that keeps you awake during the day may be keeping you up at night too. Caffeine can stay in your system for as long as 8 hours. So if you’re aiming to hit the pillow by 10 pm, count backwards and stay away from caffeinated beverages post lunch.
Keep your laptop, mobile phone and other gadgets either switched off or out of the room. The only electric gadget in your bedroom should be your alarm and the collection of you sex toys. Light is interpreted as daytime by your brain and the glow from your gadgets may delay the release of sleep-promoting hormones. This interferes with your ability to fall asleep easily and affects the duration of your sleep. Aim to keep your bedroom dark and quiet.
Don’t Sleep in Late
While it is important for you to repay your sleep debt, avoid the habit of sleeping in late on a weekend. A regular sleep-wake schedule will help your body fall asleep more easily when it hits the pillow each night.