3 Important Ways Sleep Affects Your Health (And Your Weight)

Are you feeling sleepy this summer? That’s good because you should! The longer days filled with fresh air and activities in the warm sun keep your feet moving and your heart pumping. All this summertime fun also helps you sleep better and burns calories in the process. Find out how sleep affects your well-being and your weight!

Woman sleeping in bed

Why Do We Need Sleep?

Sleep plays a big part in your life, affecting you mentally, emotionally, and physically. Sleep keeps your mind and body healthy by recharging you for the next day. It also increases metabolism, prevents memory loss, lowers stress levels, boosts your mood, enhances your performance and functionality, and promotes overall health by decreasing health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

A recent study by The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) found that most Americans are not getting enough sleep, and are even sleep deprived. With the hectic demands and distractions of modern life, it is especially important to get the recommended hours of sleep every night. And so, the NSF created new guidelines for a good night’s rest, broken down by age group as follows:

•Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day (previously 12-18)
•Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours (previously 14-15)
•Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours (previously 12-14)
•Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours (previously 11-13)
•School-age children (6-13): 9-11 hours (previously 10-11)
•Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours (previously 8.5-9.5)
•Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours (new age category)
•Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
•Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours (new age category)

Too Much Or Too Little Is Trouble

Be careful, too much of anything can be a bad thing — and that goes for sleeping too! Oversleeping can cause you to become groggy, dehydrated, and unmotivated. Under sleeping can cause more stress, bad decisions and impulsiveness (especially with food), and slows your metabolism which leads to weight gain. It’s important to find the right balance for yourself.

Sleep More To Burn More

Being deprived of sleep can lower your metabolism, while increasing your stress, hunger, and comfort food cravings. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people increased late-night snacking (of energy-dense, high-carb snacks) when they were sleep deprived. Even more, not getting enough sleep can influence you to eat larger portions more often to compensate. Sleep deprivation interferes with your body’s metabolism to process foods into energy from your bloodstream, so it becomes stored as extra fat instead — the total “lose-lose” situation.

Tips And Tricks For A Terrific Slumber

Cut out caffeine, alcohol, and sugar during the last few hours before going to bed. It will help you fall asleep easier and for longer periods of time.

Turn off electronics like laptops and cell phones at least an hour before going to bed, as the screens emit light which can make it harder to fall asleep, and keep your mind racing instead of winding down.

Stick to a regular bedtime schedule that will keep your inner clock in check every day.

• Turn out the lights. It signals your brain to naturally relax.

Start a bedtime ritual such as taking a bath or reading to help you get calm and peaceful.

It’s true — you can burn more calories by simply sleeping them away. Make sure you are getting the right amount of sleep to improve your health and well-being on mental, emotional, and physical levels.

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Resources:
http://www.webmd.com/diet/sleep-and-weight-loss
http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17316/national-sleep-foundationreleases-new-guidelines-for-a-good-nights-rest.html

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