Being Your Best — The Correlation Between Sleep & Success Part 2
Sleep and Weight Loss
For years now, a poor diet and lack of exercise were blamed for obesity. Today, most people would agree that we live in a society that thrives on speed and getting things done. Drive-thru fast food is one of the easiest ways to get food while on the go. However, it’s not without a cost. Not only is the majority of fast food full of calories, fat, salt, and sugar, but it’s almost nutritionally empty. Yet many people find themselves eating it regularly. It seems obvious that food choices lead to obesity.
A lack of exercise can hurt the body in many ways. It can cause problems with the lungs, heart, joints, bones, blood sugar levels, muscles and even your mood. It’s also believed that lack of exercise can lead to cancer and a decline in mental health. This is part of the reason exercise and diet go hand in hand. Eating better and getting enough exercise can lead to a healthier life, and for those who need to lose weight, this combination long seemed to be the two biggest contributors for a healthy body. However, studies now suggest their should be a third, just as important, key to being successful at weight loss: getting enough sleep.
The same Harvard study referenced above also talks about how insufficient sleep can lead to weight gain. Their research shows that people who sleep, on average, less than six hours a night tend to have a higher body mass index (BMI). Research is showing how sleep can directly impact weight. When we sleep, our bodies use this time to secrete hormones that influence appetite, the processing of glucose, and energy metabolism. When a body doesn’t get the right amount of hormones released, it can impact our choices later in the day. Feeling tired may mean we reach for a sugary snack to give us that little boost that comes with eating sugar, instead of opting for a better choice. A lack of sleep can also leave a person feeling too tired to exercise. So when we choose the unhealthy snack with high sugar or fat, those calories tend to stick around when we don’t counteract them with exercise.
Now that more is known about weight loss, the key to losing weight lies in not just diet and exercise, but allowing the body to get plenty of sleep so it can do its job properly. Using a combination of all three, proper diet, exercise, and a good night’s sleep, means that people who are trying to lose weight will likely be much more successful than those who are using the old ‘eat less and exercise’ mantra.
Sleep and Brain Functionality
Whether you’re in college or in the workforce, you want your brain to be at peak working capacity. There is no better way to do this than with sleep. Sleep is a way to recharge your mind and body in a way nothing else can. Our cycles of sleep go through different stages each night. We sleep lighter at some times and deeper at others. The deep sleep filled with REM seems to be the most important for brain functionality.
Currently, researchers are working to figure out how sleep affects the chemical composition of our brain when someone is sleep deprived. The studies are using advanced cellular, molecular, and brain imaging technology so that researchers can explore how certain sleep disorders affect different regions of the brain during sleep. This is being done in an effort to provide better treatment for those who suffer from sleep disorders.
It is well known that a lack of sleep impacts many functions, and that not getting enough sleep can lead us to make poor choices, and affect concentration and memory. Therefore, researchers doing these studies hope to impact the quality of life for many people who are struggling day to day. Currently, millions of people are affected by a lack of sleep.
Cultural assumptions can play a large part on our sleep and sleep patterns. It’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Although this is meant as a joke, it stems from a saying by Benjamin Franklin who said, “Waste not life, in the grave will be sleeping enough.” What Benjamin Franklin said is a stark difference to the joke of today. Without sleep, if we aren’t as productive, don’t feel as good, can gain weight, and have lower self-esteem, why would we want to brag about not getting sleep?
Marriott hotels CEO, Arne Sorenson, thinks this needs to stop. He feels that trying to glorify not getting sleep is the wrong attitude to take. He proudly states he gets a good seven and a half hours a night.
Many people think that smartphones are directly related to not getting enough sleep. You can change the bell, buzzer, or alarm to signal who you’re getting an email from, a different alarm, or even who is texting you. Keeping the phone by your bed means you’re available virtually every minute of the day. So naturally, this interrupts sleep patterns, and since 71% of people reports taking their smartphones to the bedroom with them, this poses a problem for millions of people.
While some may see boasting about a lack of sleep as cool, Mr. Sorenson is doing what he can to increase the dialog of the importance of sleep. He is looking into making Marriott hotel rooms more sound proof, and increasing the knowledge base of his customers about the subject. He believes that instead of bragging about a lack of sleep, we should be bragging about getting enough.
What the Research Shows — The Difference Between Six and Eight Hours of Sleep
When it comes to sleep, the reality is that there is a big difference between six and eight hours of sleep. Studies are repeatedly showing how not getting close to eight hours can lead to obesity, a host of chronic diseases, lack of mental clarity, and even premature death. Although many of these studies can’t differentiate between whether or not someone would develop these issues or not, repeatedly looking at the statistics tells us how important getting enough sleep is.
Currently, it’s believed that about 30% of people don’t get enough sleep. Not only does this affect the bottom line of businesses, but it can affect how we look and feel about ourselves. Six hours isn’t enough time to get into the most important time for REM sleep, and can leave a person sluggish and unable to function at their peak. So with so many downfalls to not getting eight hours of sleep, it’s important to figure out the best means of changing sleeping habits.
Sleep and its Connection to Tea
Our lifestyles tend to lean towards trying to get it all done, without having to take a break. This means we can work longer than eight hours a day, be consumed with driving kids to and from practice, and having plans all weekend long. What needs to be done to correct the many issues that come with a lack of sleep can include getting on a schedule, making sleep a priority, and understanding the vital benefits of getting enough sleep. Even though you’re busy, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on vital sleep. Being busy can actually seem like less of a burden when you’re feeling good because you’re sleeping good.
But what if you’re not tired? Learning to slow down and take care of yourself can be hard for some people. Even though the body may be tired, the mind can seem to race on and on with the endless things we have to think about. To counter this, consider the many benefits of a quality tea and creating a daily routine. If you enjoy caffeinated tea, be sure to drink it before 2pm. To enjoy tea later in the day, choose a non-caffeinated tea such as tisanes, which are herbal infused teas that are steeped in boiling water.
Prior to heading to bed, make a routine of drinking chamomile, rooibos based blends, or a sleep blend to help you relax. These teas can also help you enjoy a night of sleep without waking up in the middle of the night, which is a common problem for many people. Sleep needs to be treated more as priority, rather than something we celebrate once in a while when we get enough.
When you use teas properly, they can aid in sleep patterns without having to give up your favorite drinks. Just choose a quality tea that works best for you and that your palate enjoys. When you get into a routine using teas, your body will eventually respond with better quality of sleep and getting enough hours of sleep. This will allow you to function at your best, and isn’t that what we all really want?
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