Eat, run, sleep

by Khushboo on December 27, 2010

I couldn’t make up my mind this morning: wake up an hour early to exercise before work or carry on sleeping?  Realizing that I have a week of late nights ahead of me, I decided to go with the latter. Chances are I won’t be able to indulge in 8 hours of sleep a night until next year :lol:.

I always joke that sleep is overrated and that it’s a waste of time. But truth be told, I lurve to sleep. There’s nothing like waking up refreshed after a good night’s sleep. That being said, I often forget that my need to sleep goes beyond feeling exhausted. More often than not, we automatically equate a healthy lifestyle to only sound nutrition and regular exercise. While those are undoubtedly crucial to good health, there remains a missing piece to the puzzle: SLEEP!  Considering it should occupy one-third of our day, sleep is equally critical to our wellbeing.

Just as living off McDonalds is a recipe for disaster, so is a shortage of sleep. As mammals, sleep is not an option. We NEED to sleep for healthy functioning. More than just affecting our energy levels, sleep is directly linked to our health. When one part of the body system suffers, other parts of the system will follow suit.  Take our hunger levels, for example. Leptin is an appetite-regulating hormone. When we don’t get enough sleep, leptin levels fall and hence our appetites increase. Inadequate shut-eye also plays havoc to our metabolism and cravings, making us opt for sugary, high-fat snacks. In such cases, reaching for our bed rather than the fridge would probably be a wiser option.

Along with metabolic and hormonal disturbances, a shortage in sleep also increases the risk of cancer by up to 50%.  Sleeping for less than 7 hours can also increase the production of cortisol or stress hormones.  As a result, the risk of stress-related illnesses such as diabetes type 2 and heart disease multiply.  If that’s not enough, here’s the kicker that might do the trick: less sleep makes you look older :shock:. Lack of sleep usually leads to pale skin and a tired face. It also disrupts the production of collagen which ultimately triggers the onset of *GASP* wrinkles.

So what to do? What to do? Forego the benefits of exercise or sleep? Neither! Continue eating your wholegrains and continue clocking up your miles. At the same time, make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep daily. More than just recharge your batteries, sleep will set you on the road to good fitness, good eating and good health.

~Hope this didn’t out you to sleep. But if it did, I’m indirectly doing you a favor ;).

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