New research shows that people can decrease their risk of developing type 2 diabetes if they catch up on some shut eye. A study of almost 20 men found that their insulin sensitivity improved when they slept for 10 hours every night for 3 consecutive days.
Usually these men would only get around 6 hours of sleep, and slightly more on the weekends. Increasing the number of hours in their sleep cycles for 3 days in a row shows that there are metabolic changes that can happen depending on how much sleep we get.
Obesity and diabetes are now linked to chronic sleep deprivation.
Even though many people feel like they can function on 6 or less hours of sleep every night, research shows that adults really should be getting 8 full hours of sleep per night.
So why aren’t we getting enough sleep? And how much is enough?
“It is no surprise that sleep is problematic considering Americans sleep less than ever before, have less healthy lifestyles, and are subject to the demands for a round-the-clock society. Sleep problems may be associated with decreased cognitive function, fatigue, loss of energy, lethargy, and emotional instability; and can result in death from associated diseases and accidents.”(1)
Everyone is different, but if you don’t feel well rested when you wake up, chances are you aren’t getting enough sleep.
The good news: you can catch up on sleep during the weekends by sleeping in. The key is making sleep as much a priority as productivity in order to stay healthy.
“Sleep loss is voluntary, and the decline in sleep is not normal. Just because we now live in a global economy, our bodies and our need for sleep will not adapt to that lifestyle.”(1)
On top of diabetes and obesity, lack of sleep has also been linked to the development of heart disease, stroke and depression - several more reasons not to set the alarm when you don’t have to.
If you are not getting enough sleep regularly, or have difficulty sleeping, consider some of the following tips to get into a healthier sleep pattern during the week.
Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and your bedroom is dark and quiet. Avoid watching t.v. or using the computer in bed right before going to sleep.
Try to create normal sleeping and waking schedules for yourself. Start to wind down and relax about an hour before you plan to go to sleep – take a shower or bath, read a book, or listen to calming music.
Regular exercise during the day also helps you fall asleep and sleep better through the night – as does avoiding alcohol and caffeine several hours before going to bed. Smoking can also have a negative impact on sleep patterns.
If you have a long, exhausting work week, remember that it is possible to catch up on sleep over the weekend. Take advantage of those extra sleep cycles, since they will benefit your long term health.
(1)Wells, M., & Vaughn, B. (2012). Poor sleep challenging the health of a Nation. The Neurodiagnostic Journal, 52(3), 233-249.