Thursday, July 14, 2011

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Are you battling sleep deprivation? Some of the symptoms you may feel are sluggishness, fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness, poor memory and may be gaining weight or have trouble losing weight.  I've struggled with these issues for several years.  It got so bad that I finally and reluctantly had my medical doctor refer me a few years ago to a sleep specialist.  They wired me up and I tossed and turned the night while they diagnosed my condition.  Turns out I had sleep apnea.  My wife already knew how much of a problem it was when I'd stop breathing in my sleep, only to take a huge gulp of air and a lot of snoring.  It was as much of a health issue for me as it was to her sleep patterns.  The specialist said I would need a CPAP machine to help keep my restricted airway open while sleeping.  My medical doctor said the machine would help, or I could lose weight and that my condition would likely improve and correct itself. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010), over 25 percent of Americans experience sleep deprivation. For some, disrupted sleep results from the hectic nature of busy modern lifestyles. For others, serious sleep disorders affect both rest and health.  Sleep plays a vital role in health and wellness.  Most people know that eight hours of sleep per night is desirable. 
People who got very little sleep ate more, but did not necessarily burn any extra calories in a new study that adds to evidence supporting a link between sleep deprivation and weight gainThe new findings from the University of Pennsylvania show that “sleep should be a priority,” said Michael Grandner, who studies sleep and sleep disorders at the University in Philadelphia.  “If you’re trying to be healthy, don’t forget that getting healthy sleep is probably an extremely important part of being healthy,” said Grandner.   

In a separate study, the department of Neurology at Northwestern University in Chicago linked obesity to sleep duration.  The study also found that people who sleep later into the day and eat later in the day had a higher body mass index.   What they found was that late sleepers consumed 248 more calories a day, mainly at dinner and later in the evening. They ate half as many fruits and vegetables, twice the fast food and drank more full-calorie sodas than those with earlier sleep times.  "The extra daily calories can mean a significant amount of weight gain - two pounds per month - if they are not balanced by more physical activity," said co-lead author Kelly Glazer Baron, a health psychologist and a neurology instructor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.  “The research findings could be relevant to people who are not very successful in losing weight,” said Phyllis Zee, M.D., the study’s lead author. "The study suggests regulating the timing of eating and sleep could improve the effectiveness of weight management programs."

As a youngster, and even into adulthood, I have pulled many an all-nighter.   There is always a price to be paid the next day: trouble focusing, a fuzzy memory and other cognitive impairments.  When I improved my diet and lifestyle to healthy eating and started exercising, the sleep apnea began to minimize and eventually virtually eliminated.  I now get a sound nights sleep, as does my wife.  I'm able to function at what I feel is a much higher level of cognition.  I think clearer, have more energy and vitality, feel stronger and don't get the sleepiness or feel sluggish.  I no longer feel fatigued and my weight is now ideal!   Sleep deprivation leads into a cycle that seems to spiral out of control, if we choose to let it.  I took back the control through proper nutrition and exercise and my sleep deprivation was reversed.

Is sleep deprivation holding you back in life?  Nearly everyone knows that good nutrition and regular exercise are key ingredients to a healthy, happy life. However, nutrition and exercise are not the only foundational elements of well-being. Without healthy sleep, my overall health was utterly compromised. Fast forward from three years ago, and thus, nutrition, exercise and sleep became a key factor in the success of my well being.   It is absolutely imperative to be educated and understand the importance of these three foundations.  I am a testament to its impact on my life.  I hope my blog post today will help empower you to live life to its fullest. 

If you want the straight dope on fueling your body with nutritious food and what to avoid, I'm here to help and it won't cost you a penny for the free advice based on my own experience and what has worked for me.  I hope you'll follow my blog and provide me with some feedback on my posts.  I'll be catering good choices that include both dietary and lifestyle changes.  So if you could use a boost to your engine, buckle up for the ride of your life and let's get started!

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