What time do you tuck yourself in each night? Your answer may be more important than you think.
One in three Americans don’t get enough sleep, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Why is this significant? Because there’s a strong connection between sleep and healthy habits. People who go to bed around the same time each night and get seven to eight hours of rest are more likely to eat well and be more active, compared with those who sleep less (or considerably more). Variable bedtimes are more likely to be associated with being sedentary, smoking, drinking more alcohol (which is a known sleep disruptor) and getting less quality shuteye.
“Getting your sleep straightened out is one of the best things you can do for your health,” says Yes Health Coach Sally. “People who don’t get enough sleep are shown to have increased levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Taking the time to create intentional, healthy sleep practices is crucial for anyone concerned about their weight.”
The vast majority of adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. The C.D.C. study notes that people who get less than seven hours are at higher risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Other studies have connected poor sleep to depression, substance abuse and weight gain. And it’s not just quantity of sleep that matters, but quality too.
Regularly sleeping fewer than 7 hours a night can also wreak havoc on glucose levels and insulin resistance, leading to a higher risk of developing prediabetes and diabetes. Glucose goes up and insulin is secreted, while leptin—the protein that tells us when our hunger is satisfied—decreases. This potent combination is associated with eating more carbohydrates, possibly in an attempt to make up for their lack of energy, and weight gain.
So how can we naturally improve our sleep patterns? Here are 6 tips from the Yes Health coaches you can start practicing tonight:
- Be consistent. Set an achievable bedtime goal for yourself during the week and rise at the same time each morning.
- Eat early and eat light. Make lunch your biggest meal of the day and consider a home-cooked, veggie-rich dinner rather than grabbing takeout after work.
- Create an electronic-free zone. Turn off all gadgets at least an hour before winding down for the evening. (Removing TVs from the bedroom can also help.)
- Start a tea-time ritual. Enjoy a cup of herbal tea (mint or chamomile are great choices) after dinner instead of pouring yourself a nightcap.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Limit the bedroom to sleep and intimacy only and create a dark, cool, quiet environment to support longer, deeper sleep.
- Learn new behaviors. If you’re having a tough time shifting your habits, cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown be just as (if not more) effective than most sleeping pills.
Keep in mind that we can’t just think ourselves into getting better sleep. We have to act too, by making adjustments to light, temperature, sound and behaviors. One positive change leads to the next, so try shifting your routine at bedtime tonight. You might be surprised by how good you feel in the morning.
Check out these links for more information on the connection between sleep, health and diabetes:
- Sleeping late? Napping all the time? What your sleep says about your health
- Sleep and Diabetes: The Secret Link
- Is too little sleep a cause of weight gain?
- 13 Best Sleep Tips
- Sleep Problems Tied to Type 2 Diabetes
- Can quality sleep be a factor in preventing diabetes?
Yes Health is a low-cost, weight loss and diabetes-prevention program committed to helping everyone live healthier, happier lives.