The idea that chronic sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on our health is not new. However, when most of us hear the term ‘sleep deprivation’ we tend to think in extreme terms: getting five hours instead of eight, or pulling ‘all nighters’ regularly, for example.
However, as a new study shows, losing only a small amount of sleep per night can have surprisingly large long-term consequences for your health and waistline. Specifically, the study showed that losing as little as 30 minutes of sleep per night on weekdays might lead to the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The study examined the sleep habits of 522 people, who completed sleep diaries for 12 months. At the beginning of the study, the researchers found that those who had the largest weekday ‘sleep debt’ were 72 percent more likely to be obese compared to participants who reported no weekday sleep debt.
After six months, sleep debt became even more highly correlated with obesity and insulin resistance. Finally, after 12 months, the researchers determined that, “for every 30 minutes of weekday sleep debt at baseline, the risk of obesity and insulin resistance was significantly increased by 17 percent and 39 percent, respectively.”
The lead author of the study, Professor Shahrad Taher, commented that the findings may have significant consequences for the way metabolic disorders are treated:
“Sleep loss is widespread in modern society, but only in the last decade have we realized its metabolic consequences,” he said. “Our findings suggest that avoiding sleep debt could have positive benefits for waistlines and metabolism and that incorporating sleep into lifestyle interventions for weight loss and diabetes might improve their success.”
In other words, if you’re trying to lose weight or reverse diabetes but haven’t addressed your poor sleeping habits yet, it may be time for a more holistic strategy that includes improving sleep quality and increasing sleep time.
According to a 2013 poll of six countries, less than half of those surveyed reported sleeping well each night, suggesting that there are a lot of people out there who could use a little help in the bedroom.
Beyond simply making sleep a higher priority in your life, here’s a few tips to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer:
· Respect your natural sleep cycle by going to sleep earlier, which will allow you to wake up with the sun-rise.
· Use blackout drapes if your schedule forces you to sleep during the day.
· Be sure to lower lights and turning off screens at least a half hour before bed to let your brain know it’s sleep time!
· Address underlying issues like anxiety or sleep apnea, which may be impacting your sleep.
· Keep things cool! Under 70 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for sleep.
-The Alternative Daily