America seems to have a hate/hate relationship with sleep. Americans tend to glorify around-the-clock work and play and to do everything they can to avoid getting the sleep that their body craves. Unfortunately, this avoidance is coming back to haunt them.
For example, take sleep deprivation and the operation of machinery such as motor vehicles. Dr. Mercola writes,
“Tired drivers are as dangerous as drunk or drugged ones, and experts believe sleep deprivation may have played a role in the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Staten Island ferry crash, and the Three-Mile Island nuclear meltdown.”
However, sleep deprivation doesn’t just inhibit your mechanical aptitude. Dr, Mercola continues,
“But it is FAR more than increasing your risk of accidents. You are decimating your health if you regular ignore and not honor your body’s need for about 8 hours of sleep to recharge and repair.”
One issue with sleep loss is it’s connection to weight gain because sleep loss causes an increase in appetite-inducing hormones. In other words, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases hormones to make you feel more hungry, and you eat more. This causes weight gain which is associated with a variety of health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and even a correlation relationship with diabetes.
Unfortunately, the news gets worse. If you get enough sleep, but this sleep is bad sleep, you aren’t necessarily helping yourself. CNN reported,
“[G]etting bad sleep could be just as harmful as not getting enough sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea… can increase blood pressure… deprive the body of oxygen, cause irregular heartbeat, and make the blood more sticky, all of which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke…”
To help you get the amount and quality of sleep that your body needs, you should be sure to get exposure to sunlight and to try to move your sleep pattern to match natural sleep rhythms in line with the day / night cycle. Dr. Mercola recommends that you get 10-15 minutes of sunlight each morning and 30-60 minutes of outdoor sunlight exposure in the middle of the day.
Additionally, avoid certain medications, caffeine, and using electronics such as television, computers, smartphones, and tablets near bedtime.
Getting the right amount and quality of sleep can have a positive effect on your overall health, and, therefore, your life.