Lack of Sleep or Legally Drunk?

Sleeping

Image by soylentgreen23 via Flickr

Sleep is essential for your overall health and many times we don’t realize the significant impact that a lack of sleep has on our day and overall life. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student or a busy executive, sleep is essential for your overall performance. The excuses about having a lot of work to finish, big exam or presentation just doesn’t fly. Plan ahead, prepare and get it done on time.  Once you get into a pattern of inefficiency and try to compensate by pulling all nighters, the vicious cycle begins. Lack of  sleep further disrupts your efficiency and you’ll find yourself plummeting further down the rabbit hole.  Take a look at how insufficient sleep can disrupt brain function during exams or during long days at work:

With continued lack of sufficient sleep, the part of the brain that controls language, memory, planning and sense of time is severely affected, practically shutting down. In fact, 17 hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.05% (two glasses of wine). This is the legal drink driving limit in the UK.

via BBC – Science & Nature – Human Body and Mind – What is sleep.

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Getting Enough Sleep for Optimal Health?

A child sleeping.

Image via Wikipedia

Sleep is typically the last thing on a person’s mind when they are thinking about their overall health and fitness, but really sleep should be the first thing. Not getting a good night’s sleep can be a huge setback to anyone trying to lose body fat or put on muscle. Lack of sleep is a stress on the body, so when you consider the effects of stress on muscle and fat you may be surprised how much of an impact your sleeping habits may be having on reaching your goals.

As I mentioned in a previous article about stress and fat loss, your body will have a tendency to produce cortisol under stress and this hormone is directly related to fat storage. So how does lack of sleep impact the body? Well first of all when you sleep your body uses this segment of time for the repair process. This is especially important when you are active and your body is undergoing a fair bit of exercise related stress.

A Harvard Health Publication suggests six reasons to not skimp on sleep.  For one, sleep impacts learning and memory functions as well as metabolism and weight loss. Sleep has a direct impact on what’s called memory consolidation and with regards to metabolism sleep deprivation has a direct affect on some hormones that control appetite. Not only that, but sleep deprivation can alter the way your body stores carbohydrates.

Among other things sleep deprivation has an impact on mood, safety, cardiovascular health and the body’s immune function. So sleeping 4 to 6 hours per night can be very destructive not only to your health, but also your goals of losing weight and body fat.

Living an active and healthy lifestyle requires management of various factors in your life. Everything that you do has a direct impact on how your body will react. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together and understanding the relationship between what you input to your body and the output or returns is essential for your overall health and well being.

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