Importance of Sleep
The first article in this series stressed the importance of being prepared to
begin any weight loss program. Withough proper diet preparation, you will set yourself up for weight loss failure instead of success. This entire series deals with diet preparation as it relates to sleep and stress.
If you are in a stressful period in your life, you probably aren’t getting enough sleep. Or the sleep you are getting isn’t the kind of sleep that is doing for the body what a good night’s sleep is supposed to do. If you aren’t getting good sleep, your body will suffer, particularly if you are trying to lose weight.
The American Insomnia Assocition (AIA) states that insomnia is defined as trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Different types of insomnia include:
Acute / Transient Insomnia – Lasts from one night to a few weeks and is often caused by a temporary situation in a person’s life, such as an argument with a loved one, a brief medical illness, or jet lag.
Intermittent Insomnia – Occurs on and off and most commonly in people who are temporarily experiencing: stress, environmental noise, extreme temperatures, changes in the surrounding environment, sleep/wake schedule problems such as those due to jet lag, or medication side effects.
Chronic insomnia – Occurs on most nights and lasts a month or more (sometimes years). Chronic insomnia can be secondary to causes such as medical, physical or psychological conditions, sleep disorders (i.e., sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, etc.), medications or other substances.
Any of the above sound familiar? You see, the importance of sleep is emphasized by the effects of sleep deprivation. Coordination, judgment, reaction time and social functions will likely be harmed by lack of sleep.
When you don’t get enough sleep, several things can occur:
- – Drowsiness during the day interferes with your brain’s ability to concentrate, learn and remember things.
Physical impairment – Simple tasks may prove more difficult to perform and complex tasks may become seemingly impossible.
Emotional response – You may become anxious, moody, and impatient, and notice increased difficulties during interaction and cooperation with others.
Well, it’s not we who typically notice that we are difficult to get along with, but everyone around us sure notices it.Particularly as it relates to successful weight loss, sleep helps the body restore and rejuvenate in many different ways including:
Memory, Learning and Social Processes
- – Sleep enables the brain to encode new information and store it properly. REM sleep activates the parts of the brain that control learning.
The parts of the brain that control emotions, decision-making and social interactions slow down dramatically during sleep, allowing optimal performance when awake.
Nervous System – Some sleep experts suggest that neurons used during the day repair themselves during sleep. When we experience sleep deprivation, neurons become unable to perform effectively and the nervous system is impaired.
Immune System – Similarly, sleep also enables the immune system to function effectively. During deep sleep, the body’s cells increase production while proteins break down at a slower rate. Without proper sleep, the immune system becomes weak and the body becomes more vulnerable to infection and disease.
Growth and Development – Children need much more sleep than adults. Growth hormones are released during sleep, so sleep is vital to proper physical and mental development. The effects (positive and negative) of sleep for babies and children are magnified. Tired children are often cranky, fussy and become easily frustrated and difficult.
It is often easier for adults to interpret and remedy the effects of tiredness in children than for them to listen to their body’s own signals for more rest.
Well even if you aren’t a medical doctor or a member of the AIA, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out does it? If you really want to lose the weight, you have to establish healthy sleep patterns and ways to deal with stress.
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