So, there I was, sitting in my chair, facing the television, when I realized I had no idea what was going on up there and I’d reread the same page in the book at least four times. I was tired.
I toddled off to bed, secure in the knowledge that I surely would be getting enough sleep to feel rested and refreshed the next day. That was around midnight and I had to get up before 7 am the next day. Thinking back, no, I wasn’t getting enough sleep.
Turns out, that’s not a good thing. Especially if you do it on a consistent basis. Keep cutting yourself short in the zzzzzz department and you’re going to be no good to yourself, no good to your sigot and definitely no good to the little dudes and dudettes running around the house. And it’s not just about mood, either.
Sleep is the critical element that allows you to attain success in your peak performance, weight loss and longevity goals. No matter how clean you eat or how often you exercise, if you’re chronically sleep-deprived and stressed, or if you’re not getting regular quality sleep, you’re sabotaging your efforts.
Sleep deprivation has profound effects on hormones that control metabolism, appetite, mood, concentration, memory retention, and cravings. It is associated with high blood pressure, elevated stress hormone levels, irregular heartbeat, and compromised immune function, and it drastically increases your risk for obesity and heart disease. Results from the 2004-2006 U.S. National Health Interview Survey indicated that adults who usually slept less than six hours were much more likely to smoke, drink more than five glasses of alcohol, not exercise, and be obese. Interestingly, adults who slept more than nine hours also engaged in these unhealthy behaviors.
But the question rises, then, why is a lack of sleep bad for us? Just as we need to know: Why is too much sleep bad for us?
We’re not really sure about it. Sorry. But here’s a bit about what’s going on. Your body has a lot of cryptochromes, a lot of very ancient proteins concentrated in your eyes and skin. They are sensitive to the blues of dawn and dusk. When stimulated, they signal the body to stop producing serotonin, which has been keeping you going all day, and produce, instead, melatonin, which helps you get a good night’s sleep. In the morning, the pineal gland reverses the process, thanks to the cryptochromes.
That’s your natural sleep rhythm. You know what really disrupts this cycle? Artificial lights. Seems that being exposed to a lot of that will disrupt the way your body balances serotonin and melatonin.
So, here’s a bit of an idea. About 30 minutes or so before you go to bed, try lowering the light levels in your room. Get your body used to the change between daylight and night. Don’t make it as sudden as flicking a switch.
You never know. You might actually feel good in the morning. Sure, that’ll be different, but sometimes different is good.