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Sleep: An Ingredient for a Healthy Life

March 31, 2014, 2:00 pm

Most people know to get ‘enough sleep.’ Busy lifestyles, erratic work schedules, or even new children (and puppies) can keep someone from getting the sleep they need. Current research now shows a connection between good (nutritious) health and sleep. So the question is… do you get enough?

‘Enough’ can be described in different ways, but usually describes anything more than 6 hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation may also not be intentional; it could be related to Obstructive Sleep Apnea or Restless Leg Syndrome. New studies have emerged that bridge the gap between health & wellness with sleep.

Evidence linking sleep deprivation to weight gain was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics based on an extensive review of literature published over a fifteen-year period. "Various investigations, although diverse, indicate an effect of partial sleep deprivation on body weight management," says Sharon M. Nickols-Richardson, PhD, MD, professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park. "The intriguing relationship between partial sleep deprivation and excess fat make [sleep] a factor of interest in body weight regulation, particularly in weight loss" (1).

In another study, a possible link between type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and sleep disruptions/short sleep duration has fueled research to target interventions aimed at reducing sleep loss. Appropriate sleep habits may open the door to the prevention and treatment of these conditions. Another study saw the same link, and further noted that such sleep disturbances effected the hormonal regulation in the body. Reduced physical activity may occur, though the results are unclear and likely related to fatigue. Changes in hormones that regulate hunger result in increased appetite. This leads to an overall increase in energy and decrease in activity (2, 3, 4).

In children, a study in the International Journal of Obesity found that children of a certain age who slept less than the recommended amount (10 hours for children 16 months of age) consumed 10% more calories per day than children of the same age who slept 13 hours or more per day. This was unrelated to simply being awake more, but likely due to similar hormonal changes as mentioned previously in adults (5).

The main message from these studies is to get adequate sleep (over 6 hours per night for adults). Though the science is somewhat unclear at this time, one thing remains true - sleep is definitely linked to reduced nutritional health (i.e. obesity, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, increased appetite with reduced physical activity, etc.) in some way. Getting the sleep you need not only can help you focus throughout the day, but also optimize your body for a healthy eating regimen and lifestyle.

Rest Up and Happy Eating!

References

(1) http://www.eatright.org/Media/content.aspx?id=6442472644#.UzS6PCjlOHI

(2) http://www.medpagetoday.com/Endocrinology/MetabolicSyndrome/44923

(3) Schmid, SM, et al. The metabolic burden of sleep loss. The Lancet: Diabetes and Endocrinology. doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(14)70012-9 [2014].

(4) Shlisky, J, et al. Partial Sleep Deprivation and Energy Balance in Adults: An Emerging Issue for Consideration by Dietetics Practitioners. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012:112;1785-1797.

(5) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140325100254.htm

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