Living a demanding lifestyle often makes it a challenge for the average person to properly maintain their health. This truth applies to all forms of wellness, including sleep. Increasingly, people are sleeping less, and the quality of the sleep is compromised.
The nature of a high intensity work routine generally leaves an individual tired and drained. This naturally orients them into a position where their need for proper, high quality sleep is further intensified. Despite this, most adults sleep for fewer hours than recommended every night, and the level of sleep is often compromised. In fact, around 50 to 70 million individuals in the U.S. suffer from chronic sleep loss and sleep disorders, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The Health Consequences of Improper Sleep
The negative health effects that go along with lack of sleep are many, including increased fat gain. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that not only do you eat more when deprived of sleep, but you also are more likely to cave to junk food desires as a result of a potential hormonal dysfunction.
“If you’re trying to control your weight, it would be helpful not to be sleep-deprived,” said Marie-Pierre St-Onge of the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, who led the study.
Working almost every day in a fixed and demanding routine can often make an individual feel squeezed for time and run down. As a result, the free time that they do have is directed into personal interests, hobbies, or simple entertainment — not quality sleep. Most people squeeze just as much entertainment in as they can, while ignoring their need for quality rest. Of course choosing sleep can be a deciding factor in your quest for optimum health. Understandably, when people work lengthy hours, there is a need for them to engage in leisure activity. But before you know it, time is up, and it won’t be long before work begins again.
Time management is key. When hobbies or interests become obsessive passions, they can often consume all of the free time one has. Its important to consider responsibilities (including your health) with regards to how much time you may spend on a particular activity.
Equally important is the quality of sleep. If the quality of sleep is higher, then you can expect to actually reduce the hours of sleep necessary each night, giving you more time to act during your day. Most people sleep with the television on, music playing, or in a semi-lit room. Some form of interference, be it auditory or visual, can greatly affect the quality of your sleep. Lighting may be the largest factor, going beyond interfering with sleep and actually halting melatonin production — a key hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain that helps to regulate your body’s internal clock.
Most people enter deeper levels of sleep when these forms of interference are minimized or eliminated. Leaving on the television or music keeps your brain in a semi-conscious state as it attempts to process the information, rather than properly adjusting into sleep mode. The average adult needs from 7-9 hours of sleep to function properly. Most people are operating on a very improper sleep schedule, with some shift workers sleeping as little as 3 hours each night.
Without proper sleep, you simply can not expect to function on an optimal level. Most people think your body shuts down during sleep when in fact, it is actively working to restore quality levels of energy to your muscles and organs. Sleep is absolutely necessary in order to maintain the highest levels of health.