We are all aware of the fact that inadequate sleep makes it harder to function; we are only vaguely aware it could lead to some long-term health problems. For one thing, if we don’t get enough sleep, we are likely to end up looking like this:
Its effects on the brain are also well known, but many are unware of the role it plays in obesity and diabetes. Sleep deprivation can become part of a vicious cycle in which it is difficult to exercise, which in turn makes it difficult to get enough sleep(exercising during the day improves sleep quality at night), which makes it difficult to exercise, etc. But there is more to it that that.
So let’s see what our friends at the Department of Health Studies, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, had to say about the Associations between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity and diabetes –
Evidence is rapidly accumulating to indicate that chronic partial sleep loss may increase the risk of obesity and diabetes. Laboratory studies in healthy volunteers have shown that experimental sleep restriction is associated with an adverse impact on glucose homeostasis. Insulin sensitivity decreases rapidly and markedly without adequate compensation in beta cell function, resulting in an elevated risk of diabetes. Prospective epidemiologic studies in both children and adults are consistent with a causative role of short sleep in the increased risk of diabetes. Sleep curtailment is also associated with a dysregulation of the neuroendocrine control of appetite, with a reduction of the satiety factor, leptin, and an increase in the hunger-promoting hormone, ghrelin.
That sounds really scary. So if you are having trouble sleeping, dim your lights at night as much as possible since light can be stimulating; do not watch TV before bedtime or use your computer(unless you dim it a lot, like I did with my screen). Avoid spicy food, caffeine and alcohol as well. Alchol may help you fall asleep, but the sleep will be of poor quality. Sugary food is also out of the question. Avoid pills at all costs, you do not want to become dependent on them. Remember that it is during your sleep when your muscles grow the most. It is not a good idea to exercise within a few hours before bedtime, unless it is very light exercise.