Is Sleep Time Really Important?

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By Staff Reports

(DGIwire)— Quality sleep is critical for optimal health.  There is a time for sleep and a time to be awake.  Modern technologies and shift work have disrupted our normal biological clocks or circadian rhythms.  For hundreds-of-thousands of years we rose and slept with the sun.  The invention of electricity has altered that natural cycle and we are suffering health consequences as a result.

According to a National Sleep Foundation poll, 14% of Americans do shift work.  When compared to their day shift counterparts, shift workers are more likely to suffer from insomnia as well as excessive daytime sleepiness. They found that shift workers are also more likely to drive while fatigued and almost twice as likely to fall asleep at the wheel.  These are some symptoms and consequences of modern shift work.  However, anyone who regularly burns the midnight oil or doesn’t get enough quality sleep will most likely suffer the same fate.

A study published in the Journal SLEEP found that not enough sleep may contribute to weight gain.  In other words, they found that sleeping too much does not make you fat but sleeping too little just might.

The researchers examined sleep and body mass index (BMI) in twins and found that sleeping more than nine hours a night may actually suppress genetic influences on body weight.  After looking at 1088 pairs of twins, they found a correlation between sleeping less than seven hours a night with both an increased BMI and greater genetic influences on BMI.  Genetic influences include things like glucose metabolism, energy use, fatty acid storage and satiety.

They discovered the genetic tendency of a higher BMI to express was twice as high for the short sleepers than for twins who slept longer than nine hours a night. It is not clear whether shorter sleep provide an environment for the expression of obesity related genes or that extended sleep is somehow protective in suppressing expression of obesity genes.

“If you are interested in ideal body composition and optimal health, you need to make sleep a priority and it needs to occur during normal nighttime hours.  The old saying; ‘Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’ is time honored advice and science is now proving it to be true,” according to Tom Griesel, co-author of TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust(BSH 2011).

Griesel adds, “From an evolutional perspective, we are living in an alien world.  Our bodies are not adapting as quickly as new technology and manufactured food sources are changing the way we eat and live.  We need to understand and honor our biological and physiological limitations by making correct choices and structuring our lives accordingly.”

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