In the hustle and bustle of the world today, a good night's sleep can often be a rare and treasured event. When there just don't seem to be enough hours in the day, sleep is usually the first thing to get cut in order to increase productivity. Ironically, reducing the amount of hours that you sleep can have the opposite effect on your productivity and your health.
The number of people out there looking to make healthy changes to their lives is growing daily. They're watching what kinds of foods they put into their bodies and getting more exercise, and that's awesome. Along with diet and exercise though, a good night's rest is just as important in living a healthy lifestyle.
During the time you're sleeping, melatonin and HGH (human growth hormone) are released by your body. Special receptors in the eyes send signals to the brain when it gets dark, signaling melatonin to be produced by the pineal gland. Melatonin regulates our sleep/wake cycle and the darker it is, the more melatonin is produced. In order to sleep deeper, it's a good idea to have the room be as dark as possible in order to maximize melatonin secretion. HGH helps the body repair itself from the wears and tears of daily life.
When you don't get enough sleep, insufficient amounts of melatonin and HGH are produced, and the body is unable to fully recharge and prepare itself for another day. Lack of sleep can lead to inhibited hormone regulation, the inability to think clearly and reduced carbohydrate processing, possibly causing feelings of listlessness and lethargy throughout the day. The body also tends to produce higher amounts of cortisol during periods of insufficient sleep.
In the proper amounts, cortisol plays many roles in the functions of the body, regulating blood pressure and blood sugar, as well as the release of insulin are just a few. When cortisol is present in high amounts, however, the effects are not so nice. Too much cortisol in the blood can have the same effects on the body as chronic stress, as well as leading to an increase in abdominal fat. Not only does this prove detrimental to someone trying to lose weight or maintain their figure, but as the amount of abdominal fat increases, so does risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Those who study such things say that the average adult needs anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep every night in order to function properly. It's important to note that just because you can get less than the recommended hours of sleep each night doesn't mean you should. While you may not feel physically tired during the day, the effects on the body can add up and cause health problems later on in life. Sleeping 7-9 hours every night may be a fantasy for many, but try to adjust your lifestyle to ensure an adequate amount of sleep. You'll thank me in the morning.