Catching Z's

Sleep is important for our health and wellbeing. Many people do not get enough sleep and suffer as a result. Although we put a lot of thought into our workouts and nutrition, often how much we sleep is overlooked. Even if you are meeting the basic requirements for sleep, what is the quality of your sleep? Poor quality of sleep can affect everything from your body composition to eating habits.

The average adult gets about 7 hours of sleep per night. One third of the population is getting less than 6 hours. Studies show that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep, per night, gain almost twice as much weight over a six year period as opposed to those who get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Those who sleep 9 or more hours have similar body compositions to those who get less than 6 hours of sleep. It seems that 7-8 hours of sleep per night is the perfect number.

The real reason for lack of sleep is not always due to long work hours but because we do not shut our brains off. We cut back on sleep because we choose to. It is voluntary that we stay up and watch TV, browse the internet or go out with friends. If we were to remove artificial stimulation and excessive work/life demands, humans would sleep about 8 hours a night based on our natural sleep and wake cycles.

Sleep deficit is cumulative, so the more nights of less sleep the greater the negative side effects. Most research supports the hypothesis that sleep duration is associated with obesity. In order to become the healthiest version of ourselves we need to focus on getting enough sleep. Begin by logging in how many hours of sleep you get per night, how you feel waking up and then throughout the day.

“People just don’t realize how important sleep is, and what the health consequences are of not getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis… Sleep is just as important for overall health as diet and exercise.”

–Carl Hunt, MD, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the NIH