March 2-8, 2015 is Sleep Awareness Week™. This is an annual public education and awareness campaign to promote the importance of sleep.
Many people think that diet and exercise together should help them hit their goals. However, there is one major piece of the puzzle that the vast majority underappreciates – SLEEP.
A 1999 study done at the University of Chicago showed that restricting sleep to 4 hours per night for 7 days brought healthy adults into the same glucose and insulin characteristics of diabetics. This sleep deprivation example is rather extreme, but it does prove a point. Eve Van Cauter, PhD, deemed sleep deprivation the “royal route to obesity” after completing this study.
Another contributing factor whose effect is often underestimated is caffeine. Not getting enough sleep causes that tired feeling which many people try to remedy by reaching for a cup of joe, a candy bar, or a can of soda. Pick your poison, but understand they all have a similar effect. What starts off as a cup of coffee to get you going turns into a second cup in the afternoon and maybe a third cup in the early evening. Now, you are loaded up with caffeine to help you stay awake from the sleepless night and then you realize you need to go to bed soon. That excess caffeine keeps you up into the wee hours of the morning and then you crash hard. Your alarm goes off and all you can think about is another cup of coffee. This is a vicious cycle!
So how do we begin to break it? EXERCISE! It may seem counterintuitive to work out if you are exhausted but there is truly nothing better to get yourself energized. As you exercise, you release endorphins into your bloodstream which puts you in a better mood, you oxygenate your blood and deliver it to the different tissues in your body which can make you feel amazing. And in addition to making you feel like a champion, getting some exercise in during the day will help you sleep better at night. The exertion of exercise burns off that extra energy and leaves you feeling ready to go to sleep.
So get a full night sleep, drop the midday caffeine, and find a way to get a workout in. All these things will help you feel better, perform better, and lose weight quicker!
By: Olivia Legge, BS, ACE-CPT/GFI, Fitness Specialist/Personal Trainer/Group X Instructor at VHWFC
National Sleep Foundation: David G. Davila, MD (December 2009).
For more information, go to: https://sleepfoundation.org/events-activities/sleep-awareness-week
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