The Role of Sleep in Healthy Living
Posted on Mon, Jul 14, 2014
If you’re not getting enough sleep or if you find yourself oversleeping on a regular basis, you may be at risk for serious health issues.
Sleep is one of those aspects of daily life that has a huge bearing on our health but often gets put on the backburner. On average, adults need 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night. If you’re not getting enough sleep or if you find yourself oversleeping on a regular basis, you may be at risk for serious health issues.
What if we don’t sleep enough?
After one night, you’re already losing brain tissue and you’ll be less focused throughout the day. You’re also more likely to catch a cold or to get in an accident. After many nights, your stroke risk quadruples, and you also increase your risk of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
What if we sleep too much?
Sleeping more than 9 hours every night could indicate a medical problem, and you should consult your doctor to determine if that is the case. Diabetes and heart disease are associated with oversleeping, as are conditions like sleep apnea that may be disrupting your sleep without you realizing.
The link between sleep and weight gain:
When you don’t get enough sleep, your hormones are thrown off in such a way that increases your appetite and causes you to overeat, which leads to weight gain.
Making up for lost sleep:
Your body actually keeps track of your “sleep debt”—when you get less than 7 hours of sleep, you won’t feel right until you make up for it by sleeping away those hours you missed out on, either at night or by napping.
Preparing for a doctor’s visit
If you believe you are having a sleep issue, try keeping a sleep diary for a few weeks before your doctor’s appointment. Keep track of how many hours you sleep each night, how often you awake during the night and for how long, how long it takes you to fall asleep, how well rested you feel upon awakening, and how sleepy you feel during the day. This will help your doctor more accurately assess any health-related issues that may be causing abnormal sleep patterns.