Sleep More and Live Longer
You and your snooze button both know you need more sleep. But fatigue and crankiness aren’t the only downsides to not getting enough z’s. A new study conducted at Harvard’s Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston provides further evidence that skimping on sleep increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
“People who sleep seven to eight hours a night had the lowest risk of the conditions,” says study leader Orfeu M. Buxton, who holds a doctorate in neuroscience and is an instructor in the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Somewhere between five and six hours of sleep a night was the clear breaking point where the results were largely bad,” he says.
Why You Need Enough Sleep
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body responds differently from when it’s well rested:
1. Too little sleep puts stress on your body, causing it to churn out more fight-or-flight hormones, like cortisol, which increases your heart rate and blood pressure -- putting you at greater risk for heart disease.
2. Inadequate sleep also appears to make your body less sensitive to insulin, raising your risk for diabetes.
3. If you don’t get enough sleep, levels of the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin shift, making you hungrier and driving you to eat. “The body appears to mistake chronic tiredness for hunger,” says Buxton. “One response is that you’re seeking food or snacks that you really don’t need.” And as you gain weight, risk for heart disease, diabetes and other diseases rise: “The constellation [of health hazards] goes together,” says Buxton.
Surprisingly, researchers also found that too much sleep -- more than nine hours -- is just as dangerous as too little. One reason may be that people who sleep excessively tend to have conditions that unsettle sleep, like sleep apnea (a disorder involving interrupted breathing) or depression. So they sleep longer but not restfully.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
To figure out if you’re getting enough sleep, try this easy test: “If you can wake without an alarm and feel good, you’re getting the right amount of sleep,” says Buxton.
Still, if shut-eye doesn’t come easily, Dr. Meeta Singh, a senior staff member at the Henry Ford Sleep Disorders Center in Detroit, suggests these tips to get the seven to nine hours of sleep you need every night:
Shift into sleep mode an hour before bed
Close the laptop, and get quiet. Meditate. Read a book. Listen to music.
Keep regular hours
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. A regular schedule helps set your body clock, making it easier to fall asleep at night.
Identify insomnia culprits
A recent study showed that one-third of people with sleep problems suffered from heartburn and didn’t even know it. If heartburn is keeping you up at night, avoid eating close to bedtime, and raise the head of your bed. Gravity will help keep acid reflux from backing up into your esophagus.
Make like a bat
Your bedroom should be quiet, cool and dark -- like a bat would appreciate. Close the blinds, get a white-noise machine or a fan, and lower your thermostat to a cool 65 to 69 degrees.
Dorothy Foltz-Gray has been a freelance health writer and editor for 17 years. She is the author of Make Pain Disappear and Alternative Treatments for Arthritis and a co-author of Food Cures.
Available at Amazon.com:
- Is the H1N1 Flu Pandemic Over?
- 5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System
- Surviving Cold Season: How Not to Get Sick
- 7 Healthy Habits in 7 Weeks
- Sleep More and Live Longer
- 4 Dangerous Health Emergencies: What to Do
- Heartburn-friendly Diet with Your Favorite Foods
- Put Brakes on Inflammation Through Diet and Lifestyle Strategies
- The Vibrant and Healthy Flavors of an Authentic Latin Diet
- Is It Hunger or Just Appetite?
- Stay Healthy the Easy Way
- The Importance of Dreams
- Boost Your Energy: Hour by Hour
- Stop Information Overload
- Breathe Like a Baby
- 5 Healthy Foods That Wreck Your Teeth
- Are You Falling for Dental Myths?
- Is Heart Attack Going Out of Style?
- Flu Season
- Preventive Care & Electronic Medical Records Guidelines Set
- Stone Age Diet Surprisingly Good For a Healthy Life Today
- New Tools Fuel Progress on Development of Genetically Engineered Farm Animals
- Beat Your Afternoon Energy Slump
- Small Healthy Habits With Big Health Benefits
- Relieve Stress and Uplift Spirits with Aromatherapy
- New Things To Try That Lift Your Spirits and Relieve Stress
- 5 Fast Breakfasts That Boost Your Health
- Much to Consider When Looking for a Primary Care Physician
- Apples Are the New Fish
- Watermelon: Summer's Antioxidant
- Prescription for Better Health: Go Alfresco?
- Are All Omega-3 Fats The Same?
- Sample a Semi-Vegetarian Lifestyle With a Flexitarian Diet
- Milk: When the First Food May Be the Best Food
- Foraging is Green Eating at Its Purest
- How to Lose Weight Safely
- Colleges Joining Effort to Turn Around Skyrocketing Obesity Rates
- Medical Claims for Marijauna - Just Blowing Smoke?
- The Hidden Health Benefits of Adult Braces
- 5 Things Your Dental Insurance Will Not Cover
- 4 Effortless Steps to Whiter Teeth
- 5 First-aid Tricks You Need to Know
- Heat Can Beat the Heart
- Eating for Your Blood Type -- Truth or Fiction?
- Salt Sensitivity Issue: Salt Restriction
- 5 Tips to Bulldoze a Bad Mood
- Genetically Engineered Foods Update: More Common Than You Think
- 5 Celebrity Trends That Could Harm Your Health
- Should You Travel Abroad for a Dental Procedure
- Super Foods to Boost Your Dental Health
- The Fight Escalates Against Fake Drugs
- Fermented Foods Are Making a Comeback
- Wean Yourself Off Processed Foods in 7 Steps
- An Update on Soy: It's Just So-So
- Is it OK to Take Ibuprofen P.M.?
- Colonoscopy: Is It Time to Go Virtual Colonoscopy
- Sleep Better Tonight (Fight Fatigue Tomorrow)
- Do-it-yourself Sunburn Remedies
- Take the Germ Quiz
- Healthy Mouth Equals Healthy Body
- 5 Biggest Flossing Mistakes
- Health Threat of Nitrates: Nitrites in Cured Meats
- Stop Dry Mouth Now
- Best Ways to Keep Your Teeth
- 5 Instant Ways to Stress Less and Smile More
- Be Suntan Savvy
- 4 Ways to Sneak in Sunblock
- Can Aspirin Do That, Too?
- A Natural Approach to Sweet Slumber
- Boost Your Brainpower
- Seeds of Life: Chia, Flax, Hemp and Pumpkin
- Microgreens Become Macro Trend to Follow
- Eat Your Way to a Healthy Smile
- Why and How to Get More Vitamin D
- Better Alternatives to Silver Fillings
- 5 Beach Safety Tips
- Traveling Light: Healthy Eating for Business Junketeers
- Healthy Snacks for Energy
- Shape-Shifting 'Tube Robot' Could Aid Heart Surgery
- Better Ways to Get Your Produce
- Cutting-Edge Cuisine Engages Senses Beyond Taste
- Eat for Your Eyesight
- Is It Better to Stop Smoking Abruptly or Gradually?
- Relieve Stress in 5 Minutes or Less
- Best Ways to Soothe Sensitive Teeth
- Turn a Clean Home Into a Healthy Home
- Largest Ever Cell Phone Cancer Study is Inconclusive
- Treating Early-Stage Esophageal Cancer
- TNF Inhibitors Offer Relief to Those With Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Advances in Breast Cancer Screening Helping to Fine-Tune Diagnosis
- First Aid for Summer
- The Microscopic World of Food Nanotechnology
- Screening Plays Key Role in Detecting Polyps Before They Become Cancerous
- Learn How to Read Supplement Labels
- Compression-Only CPR Can Replace Conventional CPR in Many Circumstances
- Diabetes: Could You Have Diabetes and Not Know It
- Fighting Inflammation with Food
- Bad Health Habits Rob Years From Life Span
- Beating Back Pandemics is a Cooperative Crusade
- The Importance of Decreasing Dietary Sodium
- Chocolate Reduces Inflammation Associated with Heart Disease
- Healthy Eating Tips for a Busy Lifestyle
- Olive Oil and Health
- Push for Healthier Diets Means Big Changes for the Food Industry
- How to Identify Suicide Risk Before It's Too Late
- Tips for Natural Allergy Relief
- Inflammation May Play Role in Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Longevity Revolution Will Restructure Life Around the World
- Maximum Fitness: CrossFit Training
- Tests to Optimize Treatment of Breast Cancer
- Enjoy the Health Benefits of Tea
- Can Your Toothbrush Make You Sick?
- Sunscreen Facts You Need to Know
- When does Knee Replacement Surgery Make Sense
- Is Hefty the New Healthy?
- Best Way to Take Heartburn Medication
- Aerobics Without Heartburn
- Stress Less: Ten Strategies That Work
- Paralyzed Limbs Revived by Hacking Into Nerves
- Take the Work Out of Workout
- Cultivate a Nutrient-Rich Approach to Eating for Life
- Treadmill Test Can Reveal Hidden Problems in Heart
- Researchers Break Through to Unconscious Patients
- Key Factors Related to Heart Attack Risk
- Type 2 Diabetes Increases Risk for Cardiovascular Problems
- Middle-Age Spread and How to Avoid It
- Fiber and Weight Loss: Learn the Secrets
- Hypochondria: The Impossible Illness
- Get the Lead Out: The Less Exposure to This Toxic Metal the Better
- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sugar
- Cultivate a Healthy Brain Lifestyle As You Age
- Regular Exercise Helps Protect Aging Brains
- Surgeries Can be Combined But May Not be Necessary
Copyright © 2010 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.