Editor’s Note: Guest Contributor, Michael Scottsdale, wrote this informative piece about sleep disorders and their potential to contribute to poor health. The Medtopicwriter team has not reviewed the content of this post for medical accuracy as is the norm for content produced by team members.
How do you feel right now? Are you well rested and awake, or are you working on your fourth cup of coffee, just trying to get through the day? According to the National Commission of Sleep Disorders Research, at least 70 million Americans experience sleep problems, with over half of these being chronic cases. If you struggle with getting a good night’s rest, the negative consequences of consistently poor sleep may pose a more serious health risk than you realize.
The symptoms of sleep disorders can include daytime fatigue, weight gain, stroke and heart disease. Experts consider sleep disorders as serious medical problems, and if you suspect you have one, speak with a health care professional about testing and treatment options.
Sleep Disorders Include Several Conditions
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Restless leg syndrome
- Shift work sleep disorder
- Jet-lag syndrome
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Why Less Sleep Equals A Bigger Waistline
Chronic insomnia can lead to hormonal imbalances for both men and women. The hormone Ghrelin stimulates appetite, and the hormone leptin signals the body to burn fat. Sleep loss leads to decreased leptin levels, telling the body that it needs additional calories and fat, signaling ghrelin to stimulate the appetite. Consequently, people with sleep disorders often have fluctuations in the levels of these hormones, causing them to feel hungry more frequently than those without sleep issues. Because sleep disorders can cause fatigue, people who have them may not have the energy necessary to exercise enough to burn off the excess fat.
During quality sleep, the body releases the hormone melatonin and growth hormone. Growth hormone rejuvenates lost muscle mass, in addition to its other important functions. When these important hormones reach lower than normal levels, due to poor sleep, the body releases more of the stress hormone, cortisol, known to facilitate the storage stubborn belly fat. This cortisol plays a role in slowing down the body’s metabolism. A slower metabolism does not allow the body to burn fat as quickly and efficiently than those of with normal metabolism rates.
Healthy Bodies Need Healthy Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep promotes a healthy lifestyle. Those who feel well rested and refreshed, have the energy to participate fully in the day’s events. You’ll find healthy activities, such as exercise, more appealing after having a good night’s sleep. Your brain will thank you too, because cognitive functions work best after a restful sleep.
Tips for sleeping well include
- Cut out the coffee and cola in the early afternoon. The effects of caffeine can last up to eight hours, disrupting the sleep cycle.
- Exercise in the morning, not just before bed.
- Remove any distractions, like a TV or computer, from the bedroom.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet bedroom.
- Keep the bedroom temperature between 68 F and 72 F. Try to avoid temperature changes while sleeping.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends and during holidays.
- Don’t eat or drink anything at least two hours before bedtime.
- Children and pets need to sleep in their own beds, because their presence can disrupt sleep.
- Don’t stress if you can’t sleep. If you can’t fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed, get up and do some light reading, then return to bed when you feel sleepy.
- Maintain fresh sheets, pillows and a good quality mattress.
Sleeping well is one of the simplest ways to improve quality of life and prevent a host of serious health problems.
Author Bio: Michael Scottsdale is an online author who is passionate about basketball, weight training & fitness. When he’s not outside exercising, he studies a lot about health and nutrition, which runs the gamut from sleep apnea treatment to nutrition.
Photo courtesy: Guest contributor, Michael Scottsdale, provided the image used in this post.