Julie’s Corner – Sleep Deprivation’s Effect on Wellness

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If there is one thing that’s as important, maybe even more important, than good nutrition and eating behaviors to truly improve your wellness and well-being, it’s sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that 50% of Americans are sleep deprived. Over half of those polled reported daytime sleepiness, and 37% are so sleepy it interferes with daily activities like exercise. For women between the ages of thirty and sixty, 16% sleep less than six hours per night.

The results from sleep deprivation are vast and go beyond drowsiness and listlessness. Recently scientists discovered the hormones gherlin and leptin, which send messages to the brain to either eat more or to stop eating. Sleep-deprived people have an 18% decrease in leptin and a 28% increase in gherlin. This can boost an appetite by 24 percent! If you’re a woman, the burden is even greater because your body works very hard to keep those levels balanced and maintain a homeostasis of weight. When these regulators are out of commission, your hunger signals blast right through that red light as if it wasn’t even there!

In my work, I’ve helped a variety of women from single mothers to corporate executives. All wanted to improve their wellness and well-being through weight loss, stress management, or better physical fitness. While discussing their sleep habits, I discovered that over half of them didn’t get enough rest! There are some people who are genetically wired to operate fine on less than eight hours of sleep; but those rare individuals only make up 3% of the population.  Odds are you’re in the 97% with the rest of us who need regular full nights of sleep to function at our absolute best.

While individual needs do have a genetic component, a lack of sleep will catch up with everyone. Adults need five rapid-eye movement (REM) cycles per night; which is the time during which we dream. This helps to restore, replenish and renew our bodies and minds. Four states during which you don’t dream precede each REM period, and the entire set takes between 90 to 120 minutes. To get five full stages, you have to sleep seven to ten hours per night.

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