By Dr Sally Norton – NHS weight loss consultant & surgeon and founder of www.vavistalife.com
Tiredness from lack of sleep doesn’t just make it hard to function the next day. Sleep problems like insomnia can increase our risk of health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and depression. Being tired also reduces will-power making it harder to lose weight and keep up healthier behaviours.
Here are five great reasons to get a really good kip……
1. Sleep yourself slim
Studies have shown a link between the quality of our sleep and our waistlines.
When we have a bad night’s sleep it seems to decrease the body’s hormone that regulates appetite – leaving our hunger levels at an all-time high. But it gets worse – we not only feel hungrier, but research shows that we specifically reach for high-calorie/high-fat foods, in an attempt to boost our energy levels that have been left depleted by poor sleep.
2. Be a safer driver
It’s no surprise that people who are sleep deprived are more likely to nod off at the wheel and have a greater risk of car accidents. Sleep apnoea, often associated with being overweight, is a condition where people wake up frequently at night, often keeping their partners awake with their snoring too, and then fall asleep during the day from exhaustion. If you recognise this pattern, chat to your GP as it can be treated, reducing your risk of accidents – but of high blood pressure, heart disease and other problems too.
3. Reduce your risk of dementia
It seems that there is a link between poor sleep and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists think that sleep provides time for the brain fluid to wash away the proteins that are associated with these problems – so aim for around 7-8 hours a night to let your brain catch up with the housekeeping!
4. Beauty sleep isn’t a myth
We all feel worse after a bad night’s sleep but hope that a touch more make-up, dark glasses or even a smile may disguise it. Not true, I’m afraid! Studies show that poor sleep really does show in our face and can be picked up by others – who find us less attractive than when we are well rested. What’s more, when we are sleep deprived we find it more difficult to interpret the emotions of others –which could land us in a tricky social situation.
5. Reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes
Sleep of less than 5 hours a night may more than double your risk of type 2 diabetes an increasingly common problem which can lead to further complications of its own as well as require dietary restrictions and long-term medication. Poor sleep can lead to increased blood pressure, which is associated with strokes and heart attacks too.
So, aiming for 7-8 hours of restful sleep a night could help in these and numerous other ways. We may feel we are too busy to spare the time for another hour or two in bed…..but fear not. It seems that people who get adequate sleep tend to live longer – so we will have lots more time in the long run!