Don’t Choke on Your Free Lunch While You’re Sleeping

You’ve heard the phrase, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”. It basically means that nothing comes without a cost. But there is at least one exception to this rule: sleep. While you are asleep is when the magic happens: your body reaps the biological rewards for your thoughtful eating habits and consistent exercise. And all you have to do is lay there. Awesome. Why would you want to short-change yourself on the easiest, and arguably the most important part of feeling, looking, & performing better?

When you’re sleep deprived it’s harder to concentrate, your workouts are not as intense as they could be, and you’re not as much fun to be around.  Lack of sufficient sleep is also linked to weight gain and higher stress levels. And now it’s been shown that it’s harder to resist high carbohydrate foods when you lack sufficient sleep.  A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology found that in sleep-deprived people, viewing pictures of food activated the part of the brain associated with hunger, compared to a relative lack of activity in that neurological region of a group that was well slept. So when you’re too tired to make breakfast because you went to bed late, it’s even harder to forgo those muffins & donuts at work (who brings those???).

If this works so well, why are so many people leaving money on the bed-side table? There are lots of reasons, but one is that we’re a culture that values “burning the candle at both ends”. We like to say things like, “the early bird gets the worm”, and “something something bootstraps”. You get it.  Well, I’m afraid of candles (fire hazard), and I don’t like worms (I mean, I respect what they do, but I’m not comfortable with them).  My point is we tend to get caught up in all of the rhetoric and as a result have become downright irresponsible about sleep.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not against hard work or sacrificing to make things happen. Quite the contrary, in fact I think it’s our responsibility to, at the very least, meet our basic physiological needs so that we can give 100% at everything we do (sleep included). As adults, we need to be accountable for making good food choices, getting enough activity, and going to bed on time.

There are of course certain instances when will be sleep deprived, whether we’re taking care of a newborn, cramming for a test, or performing active duty in the military.  Hopefully, these are the exceptions and not the rule. Why not be well-rested and ready when these expected or unexpected situations come about?




~ by 8weeks2thrive on February 9, 2012.

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