It’s February! How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? If you’re struggling to stick with your resolutions, you’re not alone!
According to U.S. News, roughly 80% of resolutions fail by mid-February. So how can we be part of the 20% that stick to their resolutions? The answer may be hidden in your sleep!
We live such busy lives we don’t often think about how well we slept the night before or how refreshed we feel when we wake up in the morning. What we don’t realize is that sleep quality affects our bodies in many ways which then affect our overall lifestyles.
1. Sleep affects your appetite/diet & metabolism
You might ask, “what does sleep have to do with my appetite”?
The answer: It helps your body regulate your hunger & appetite. During sleep, your body produces hormones called leptin (suppresses appetite) and ghrelin (promotes feeling of hunger). Studies show that sleep deprivation result in lower leptin levels. This leads to increased appetite and hunger, and can result in binge-eating.
According to Van Cauter et. al. (2008), lack of sleep also has a negative effect on glucose/carbohydrate metabolism. It makes it difficult for the body to break it down. Those experiencing increased hunger and appetite are more inclined to eat carbohydrate-rich food and increase consumption which often lead to weight gain or obesity (Sharma & Kavuru, 2010).
2. Good sleep means healthy immune system
Studies have shown that sleep supports immune system functions therefore, long-term sleep deprivation will have a negative effect on your immune system.
In a study by Cohen et. al., it was found that those who have poor sleep quality, and those who are sleep deprived were more susceptible to the common cold (2009).
“There was a graded association with average sleep duration: participants with less than 7 hours of sleep were 2.94 times… more likely to develop a cold than those with 8 hours or more of sleep. The association with sleep efficiency was also graded: participants with less than 92% efficiency were 5.50 times … more likely to develop a cold than those with 98% or more efficiency”
Cohen et. al, 2009, Sleep habits and susceptibility to the common cold.
Arch Intern Med. 2009 Jan 12;169(1):62-7. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2008.505.
3. Poor sleep can result in decreased cognitive function, focus, and productivity
According to Alhola & Polo-Kantola, chronic sleep deprivation reduces
attention, focus and working memory. It can also affect other functions, such as retaining long-term memory and the ability to make decisions (2007).
Poor sleep also slows your reaction time. This can make driving dangerous and can pose risks at work and at home.
On a positive note, sleep can trigger creativity, help generate new ideas, and help us be more innovative. (Sleep Foundation) For those still looking for a new hobby, getting a good night’s sleep might help you find the right one!
4. Sleep restores energy levels
A good night’s sleep can make you feel refreshed the moment you wake up! You feel more energized and alert (Sleep Foundation). On the contrary, low energy levels lead to low motivation, and chronic sleep deprivation will have a negative effect on energy and athletic performance.
If you want to exercise more this new year, energy is a big factor and therefore sleep can play a big role in sticking to the active lifestyle.
5. Good sleep can make you feel HAPPY 🙂
It probably shouldn’t come as a shock to you that sleep affects your mood. Lack of sleep can make you irritable, short-tempered, and more likely to feel stressed.
“University of Pennsylvania researchers found that subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed normal sleep, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood.“http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/mood
As such, feeling good about your sleep can trigger other positive emotions, such as feelings of greater energy and happiness (Sleep Foundation). It can also improve social relationships!
Whether it’s losing weight, exercising more, eating healthier/dieting, or learning a new skill or hobby, sleep can play an important role in keeping up with your resolutions. Of course, getting good-quality sleep is easier said than done. For those who suffer from sleep disorders like Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), sleep quality may be hard to obtain, but help is available!
So go ahead and add “sleep better” to your resolutions! Because it’s never too late to start living a healthy life. It can be as simple as getting a good night’s sleep, and you’ll feel like you can seize the day!