Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The importance of sleep

We all know that we need sleep, yet we cannot seem to get enough. Did you know not getting enough sleep could be bad for your health?

Sleep helps control your appetite, keeps you alert and focused, helps you have an energized workout, leads to optimal emotional and social functioning, and helps with muscle and brain repair.

“Sleep is incredibly important to having a productive and energized day,” said Shane Stephens, UIS Rec Sports graduate assistant. “If you don’t get enough sleep at night you may be a little crabby and short with people the next day.”

When you sleep at night your brain releases growth hormones between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. If you are not sleeping during that time your body cannot release those hormones and repair itself.

“If you’re up at 3 a.m. studying or writing a paper, cramming, talking to your friends, whatever it might be if you’re not sleeping during that time you’re not releasing those growth hormones,” said Stephens.

Sleep is also important for helping to control two hormones. Leptin signals to your stomach that you are full and Ghrelin stimulates your appetite.

“When you don’t get enough sleep at night it drives your Leptin levels down, which means you don’t feel as full after eating a meal and increases your Ghrelin levels creating a desire to eat,” said Stephens.

It is recommended that the average person sleep 7 to 9 hours every night, however you can also bank hours towards sleep. For example, if you only get 6 hours of sleep overnight, but take a nap later it will count towards your overall total.

In order to get a good night sleep you should develop a routine, prepare your room for sleep by making it dark and cool, and turn off an unplug all your electronics. It is also important that you do not go to bed hungry or full, get regular physical activity, manage your stress levels, and limit naps and caffeine.