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Health and Wellness
Sleep and physical health are closely tied together. This blog by Theralogix discusses the connection between sleep and health.

While most people know that getting enough sleep is important, many do not prioritize sleep in their busy lives. Since it plays an essential role in your health, there are many reasons why you should make sleep a priority. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation refers to sleep as one of the essential pillars of a healthy lifestyle, along with diet and exercise.     

Read on to learn more about the connection between sleep and health and a few tips to help you build healthy sleep habits.

Sleep and Appetite

Do you find yourself hungrier after a restless night? Do you make food choices that you normally wouldn’t when you haven’t slept well? There are reasons why you may have increased cravings when you don’t get enough sleep. Research suggests that not getting enough sleep may increase hunger, appetite, and food intake.  

Two of the main hormones involved in appetite and satiety are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is often called the “hunger hormone” because it tells your brain that you are hungry and need to eat – it stimulates appetite and promotes fat storage. Leptin is often referred to as the “satiety hormone.” Leptin’s primary job is to tell your brain you are full and to regulate energy balance.  

Those who don’t get enough sleep may have higher ghrelin levels and lower leptin levels. This hormonal imbalance may help explain why you feel hungry throughout the day after a restless night. 

According to Martha McKittrick, a Registered Dietitian and blogger in New York City, “Studies have shown that women eat 329 more calories and men eat 263 more calories after sleeping only 4 hours. Additionally, inadequate sleep will decrease motivation to exercise.” 

Sleep and Blood Sugar Metabolism

Healthy sleep patterns help support healthy blood sugar levels. Your blood sugar naturally rises overnight, but your body can usually handle it by releasing insulin – this allows your cells to absorb glucose from your blood and keep your blood sugar stable. But if you don’t get enough sleep, your body may not use insulin as effectively over time, resulting in higher blood sugars.  

Sleep and Weight

Because sleep affects appetite and blood sugar levels, it makes sense that lack of sleep can also impact your weight. Studies suggest a connection between poor sleep habits and weight gain. This could be due to several reasons, including shifts in hormone levels, increased appetite, and lack of energy or motivation to exercise.  

The connection between sleep and weight is also supported by data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In general, adults should aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night. According to the CDC, about 35% of adults don’t get enough sleep, and these adults were also more likely to report weight concerns and physical inactivity.  

Tips for Getting More Sleep

The good news is there are several things that you can do to help you support healthy sleep habits. Start making sleep a priority by following these tips. 

Get outside.

Increasing your exposure to sunlight or other bright light during the day can help keep your circadian rhythm (your body’s internal clock) running smoothly. This simple step can help support healthy energy levels during the day and promote healthy sleep patterns. 

Limit screen time before bed.

Electronics like your phone, computer, iPad, or TV emit blue light that can disrupt your sleep. Consider cutting back on your screen time in the hours leading up to bedtime, and try winding down by reading a book, meditating, or another relaxing activity instead.  

Avoid caffeine in the afternoon.

It is a good practice to stay away from caffeine after your morning coffee or tea. Caffeine is a stimulant and remains in your bloodstream for six to twelve hours. Keep this in mind and limit food and drinks with caffeine in the afternoon. Coffee, certain teas, chocolate, and some soft drinks contain caffeine. 

Sleep in a cool, quiet, and dark room.

According to a National Sleep Association survey, a cool, quiet, dark room along with a comfortable mattress, pillow, and sheets help create the right environment for a restful night of sleep. Also consider wearing an eye mask to help to block out light and distractions to achieve an even better night’s sleep. 

Consider taking a high-quality melatonin supplement.

Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced by the body at night. Studies show that taking melatonin before bedtime can help support a night of healthy sleep.*   

Sleep helps you stay energized, supports healthy blood sugar and hormone levels, and promotes a healthy weight. Without enough sleep, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. So, use these tips to make sure you get enough sleep each night to feel your best each day.  

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