The Mayo Clinic recommends adults average 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, but many of us aren’t coming close. The sheer lack of sleep can cause the obvious symptoms of fatigue, stress, disorientation and the less attractive and unwanted bags under the eyes. And I haven’t even started talking about the long-term health effects such as insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, depression, substance abuse and increased risk of cancer.
We know the body can endure almost anything we put it through and can adapt to any situation (even sleep deprivation). But sleep loss affects our hormones and when these hormones are not functioning properly, the results often include an increased appetite, a decreased ability to feel full, increased abdominal fat, less lean muscle and poor body fat regulation. We do all of this to ourselves just to do one more load of laundry, stalk our friends on Facebook or finish that deadline. But we have to make sure our hormones are working for us!
For a healthy sleep cycle:
- Create a dark bedroom. Block out any outside light, use blackout curtains.
- Refrain from watching TV, using a computer and working in the bedroom.
- Avoid consuming alcohol three hours before sleep and caffeine past noon.
- Partake in regular daily exercise.
- Consume dinner two to three hours before bedtime.
- Create a routine before you go to bed each night. Your body will start to recognize the pattern and wind down naturally.
- Sleep for 7 – 9 hours each night!
Creating a restful sleep cycle can help not only maintain your energy levels and keep you healthy, but also keep your mind clear and able make the best decisions about your work, relationships, food, exercise habits and life.