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Sleep More, Less Eating And Reduce Calories

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
 


Researchers recently discovered that postmenopausal women getting six hours of sleep or less per night take in more calories daily than the seven-hours-a-night reference
group — and the short sleepers also have a lower quality diet.
So not only are they consuming more, they're consuming more of the unhealthy stuff.
The study, published in the journal Obesity, focuses on postmenopausal women because most studies looking at the relationship between sleep duration and obesity have been focused on children and young adults.
Earlier studies suggest that a bad night's sleep makes us vulnerable to unhealthy food choices the next day.
"Our data strongly suggests that if you're trying to control your weight, being sleep-deprived is not good for you," says study researcher Marie-Pierre St-Onge of the New York Obesity Researcher Center.
Sleep-deprivation doesn't exactly help us age gracefully either.
So if we know sleep is so important, why don't we just get more of it?
BBC News reports on the "arrogance" of ignoring our need for sleep, citing the serious health problems that stem from cutting sleep out of our busy lives.
"Cancer, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, infections and obesity have all been linked to reduced sleep," writes BBC health and science reporter James Gallagher.
"The body clock drives huge changes in the human body. It alters alertness, mood, physical strength and even the risk of a heart attack in a daily rhythm."
But living in a 24-hour society is causing many people to rebel against those natural rhythms.
Just a few weeks of shift work can cause people to become pre-diabetic. Another study found that women who worked the night shift for 30 years or more had double the risk of breast cancer than those who worked in the daytime.
"We are the supremely arrogant species; we feel we can abandon four billion years of evolution and ignore the fact that we have evolved under a light-dark cycle," says Professor Russell Foster of the University of Oxford.
"What we do as a species, perhaps uniquely, is override the clock. And long-term acting against the clock can lead to serious health problems."
Some experts are pointing fingers at modern technology for keeping us up later at night  and hurting the quality of our sleep.
Charles Czeisler, a professor at Harvard University, says that the blueish light from energy efficient light bulbs, laptops, tablets and smartphones are disrupting our internal clocks.
"Light exposure, especially short wavelength blueish light in the evening, will reset our circadian rhythms to a later hour, postponing the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin and making it more difficult for us to get up in the morning," he says.
"It's a big concern that we're being exposed to much more light, sleeping less and, as a consequence, may suffer from many chronic diseases."
So how can we take sleep more seriously?

Set a bed time — and stick to it
"You may feel like a child again, but it'll be worthwhile when you wake up feeling refreshed and more likely to shun the junk food," writes certified nutritionist Deborah Enos for LiveScience.
"Start by figuring out what time you have to wake up in the morning, and set your bedtime to be eight hours prior. The extra hour will help ensure that you actually start snoozing in time to get your seven hours of sleep."

Unplug
With that bedtime, create a routine that gives you time to unwind. Step away from the computer, TV and other gadgets at least an hour before hitting the sack.
"Try to live more rhythmically, in tune with the environment and not have too much bright light before bedtime because it will affect the clock and sleep," says Dr. Akhilesh Reddy, from the University of Cambridge.

Cuddle up
Here's a perk to being in a long-term stable relationship -- according to research published in 2012, women in those relationships tend to fall asleep more quickly — and sleep more soundly — than women who aren't.
"Sleep is a critically important health behaviour that we know is associated with heart disease and psychiatric well-being," says study author Wendy M. Troxel. "It happens to be this health behaviour that we do in couples."
Also, a little pre-bedtime sex helps releases sleep-promoting hormones. (Besides, what else are you going to do now that you can't bring your iPhone to bed?)

Aim for an hour
One study found that just one extra hour of sleep a night can do a world of good. So to safeguard against disease and stress, try heading to bed an hour earlier than you currently do.
How much sleep do you get per night? Share your tips for getting a good night's rest in the comments.

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