We often compromise our amount of sleep to get more out of life, and fill each day to the maximum capacity, but at our peril. I’m not just talking about the obvious side-effect of dozing at our desks by mid -morning, or the inordinate quantity of stimulants we need to keep us alert after a late night. I am talking about the findings of a study presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Atlanta.
The AHA highlighted the expected consequence of sleeping too little which may lead to eating too much. Shortened sleep duration leads to increased food consumption. (And, of course, an enhanced risk of being overweight or obese.).
Your Body’s Hormonal Response to Lack of Sleep
It seems that when you sleep less than you should, two things happen:
- Our body’s production of a hormone called ghrelin goes up. Ghrelin stimulates appetite.
- Your body’s production of a hormone called leptin goes down. Leptin suppresses appetite and speeds up metabolism. (So less of it results in slower metabolism.)
Therefore, sleeping less leads to eating more and a slower metabolism.
When you consider that we spend (or should spend) a third of our lives asleep, it’s not surprising that some critical stuff goes on during that essential downtime. It’s also hardly surprising that we battle to get to bed on time, with 24/7 stimulation from TV and the internet and social media. (And switching off a screen, falling into bed and expecting to be out like the proverbial light within seconds just isn’t going to happen either; chances are you’re going to have to read a good, old-fashioned book before your over-stimulated mind slows enough for slumber to engulf you.)
Lighting Influences Your Sleep
Consider what you’re fighting to stay awake for so long; we’re designed to want to feel sleepy as soon as it gets dark. (this does mean you’re supposed to get more sleep in winter!).
Light – especially sunlight – stimulates melanin and Vitamin D and makes us alive, awake and vital. Darkness does the reverse, making us dull, slow, and somnambulistic. Drinking coffee and watching movies simply fights against what our bodies are designed to do.
The Take Home-Message
So, take it from the doctor; watch less TV, read more (trust me, you’ll nod off by 9), and get the required 8 hours a night. It’s my prescription for a feel good factor in the short, medium and long term; more energy, less desire to eat more than you need, and, who knows, less to show for it when you step on the scale.