Feeling sluggish seems to be the new normal. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, it is the new normal: most Americans are sleep-deprived. But not getting enough sleep may be causing more trouble for you than just that pesky drowsy feeling: it could be seriously harming your health.
The National Sleep Foundation reports that 60% of Americans have sleep problems. That means more than half of us struggle to sleep. And it is taking its toll.
Adults need around 8 hours of sleep each night, although some studies indicate that as little as 7 and one-half hours can be sufficient. Getting less than that can have serious consequences:
Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: If you get less than 6 hours of sleep each night and have disturbed sleep, you have a 48% greater risk of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater risk of developing or dying from a stroke.2 Lack of sleep can cause high blood pressure, blocked arteries, stroke, kidney disease and dementia.
Sleep shortage is directly linked to obesity. When you don’t get enough sleep, two powerful hormones that control hunger are disrupted. The result is that you feel hungrier and have fewer sensations of feeling “full.”
Stress levels rise: But without enough sleep you will also feel more stressed, which encourages the production of the hormone cortisol in your body.This hormone causes you to crave high-carbohydrate foods such as potato chips and brownies, and then deposits those carbs as fat around your belly—the most dangerous place to store fat.
Pre-diabetes is also a risk for those who don’t get enough sleep.Trying to get by on less than 6 hours of sleep per night can cause impaired glucose tolerance.
Compromised immune system: Why is it that two people can be exposed to the same germs, but only one of them gets sick? The reason is the immune system. If your immune system is functioning well, you can ward off many illnesses. But if something happens to compromise your immune response, you will be vulnerable to infections, bacteria, viruses, and even some autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and asthma.
You actually have a decrease in white blood cells, and those that remain are less active.The result is that you will get sick more often.
Impaired exercise performance: As if the threat of heart disease, obesity and immune suppression weren’t enough, lack of sleep can negatively impact your fitness efforts. It’s not uncommon for people to struggle to maintain their normal level of workout intensity when they are sleep deprived. You just won’t have the energy to push through. Also, your muscles repair and rebuild while you sleep: if you don’t allow your body this recovery time, you will be at a significant disadvantage during your next workout.
Make time for sleep
The truth is, if you don’t make time now for adequate sleep, you will likely be forced in the future to make time for illness. It may take significant effort to arrange your schedule and priorities to carve out time for more sleep, but the payoff will be increased health, energy and productivity!
Ready for a nap?
Studies have shown that maintaining sufficient levels of Vitamins B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12 particularly help in achieving good sleep.
Among other affects, the group of B Vitamins is involved in regulating the body's level of tryptophan, an amino acid important for maintaining healthy sleep (covered later).
Vitamin B3 (niacin) often promotes sleep in people who have insomnia caused by depression and increases effectiveness of tryptophan. It is reported to help people who fall asleep rapidly but keep waking up during the night.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is good for relieving stress and anxiety. A deficiency of B5 can cause sleep disturbances and fatigue.
Vitamin B9 (folic acid) deficiency has been linked to insomnia.
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is reported to help insomniacs who have problems falling asleep, as well as promoting normal sleep-awake cycles.
Good natural sources of B Vitamins include potatoes, bananas, liver, liver oil, fish, turkey, nutritional yeast and molasses
Cure Insomnia with Vitamins and Minerals
Magnesium deficiency can cause nervousness, which may prevent you from sleeping. Low levels of magnesium can lead to shallower sleep and cause you to wake more during the night.
Magnesium-rich foods are wheat bran, almonds, cashews, blackstrap molasses, and kelp.
Breathing Techniques to Improve Your Sleep
Here is a simple breathing technique that can help you relax and fall asleep:
Repeat this process six to ten times.
Purse your lips as you exhale slowly. As you breathe out, silently count to eight.
Take a deep breath. Breathe in through your nose and visualize the air moving down your lungs. As you breathe in, silently count to four.
Have a great rest of your week!