Tag Archives: get enough sleep

8 Serious Dangers of Sleep Loss

sleeping-1094329-mYou know that feeling when you haven’t had enough sleep. I very rarely get a full night’s sleep. I fight going to bed like a 2-year-old child. But then, the next morning I am dragging around, irritable and simply not at my best. I swear I will go to bed early that night, yet I will stay up late again.

You may already know that lack of can affect your memory, concentration and mood. You may be surprised to learn that there can be even more serious side effects to sleep loss.

Here are 8 serious dangers of sleep loss and insomnia:

Health issues
One of the biggest reasons to get more sleep is to avoid the risk of developing serious, chronic diseases. Studies have shown that people who suffer from insomnia and sleep loss also have a chronic health condition. These common diseases include stroke, heart disease, heart failure, high blood pressure and diabetes. Sleep deficiency has also been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Serious accidents have been linked to poor sleep and fatigue. Some of the world’s biggest disasters may have involved sleep deprivation, such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl. Sleep loss can be dangerous in everyday life, too. Driving when tired can slow your reaction time as much as driving drunk. You are also more prone to accidents and injuries at home when you’re tired.

Over time, lack of sleep can contribute to the symptoms of depression. Studies have shown that people who suffer from anxiety and depression often sleep less than six hours on average a night. Insomnia has the strongest link to depression. Insomnia and depression can feed on each other. Lack of sleep can aggravate depression symptoms, and being depressed can make it more difficult to sleep.

Impaired judgment
Sleep plays an important role in your thinking process and learning. Lack of sleep impairs your cognitive processes in several ways. You are less alert, have trouble concentrating, reasoning and solving problems. These side effects of sleep deprivation also make it difficult to learn and put forth your best effort.

Weight gain
Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite. There is a link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. Sleep loss can also stimulate cravings for high-fat and high-carbohydrate foods. Throwing your appetite out of whack also increases your likelihood to overeat, and this may contribute to obesity over time.

When you sleep, your brain consolidates memories, which helps make the things you have learned throughout the day easier to access and recall. Your brain also transfers short-term information to where it can be stored for long-term knowledge. This transfer occurs in the deepest part of the sleep cycle, so losing sleep can hurt your long-term memory and contribute to forgetfulness.

Aging skin
While one night of missed sleep can lead to puffy eyes or dark circles, continual sleep loss can cause more lasting skin damage. Sallow skin and fine lines across the face, as well as dark circles, can become more permanent over time. The elasticity of the skin can also become more damaged when you don’t get enough sleep.

Manage stress
Your mind and body can do a better job of managing stress when you are more rested. Fatigue can put an added strain on your body and contribute to anxiety and make it more difficult to make decisions. Stress can also be harmful to your overall well-being and make it harder to maintain life balance.

Learn more about improving your sleep habits in our blog “11 tips to getting a good night’s sleep.”


4 steps to losing belly fat

Key ways to lose belly fatIt’s that time of year again. When the weather gets warmer, and the clothes get skimpier. After hibernating for the winter, I feel like I may have put on a few extra pounds. And, I think it settled around my midsection.

Belly fat is the latest threat to your health. Why? Because belly fat, or visceral fat, lies deep in your abdomen, surrounds your organs and increases the production of toxic hormones.

The good news is you can lose the belly fat. However, there is no magic diet or quick cure for belly fat. It takes good, old-fashioned hard work to beat the tummy bulge.

Here are 4 key steps to controlling and losing belly fat:

1. Move that body

One of the main keys to losing belly fat is to exercise often. You may need to exercise every day of the week. At the very least, you need to raise your heart rate for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week, and preferably 5 times a week. While vigorous exercise is the most effective, it may just be a matter of burning more calories. So, whether you run, walk or skip, you just need to put in the work and get moving.

You want to get your heart rate up and burn calories with aerobic or cardio exercise. You can also mix in strength training, which can help you burn fat for hours after you exercise.

Everything counts. Walk instead of driving whenever you can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Rake leaves or work in the garden. Play outside with your kids. Just find more ways to work exercise into your routine. Here are some tips to help you get motivated to exercise.

2. Eat a healthier diet

When you eat healthier, belly fat is one of the first places you will lose weight. More and more research is showing that a plant-based diet high in fiber – including fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans – can help you lose weight. This type of diet also has many other benefits, such as reducing your risk of cancer. You can also include fish, low-fat dairy and whole grains in your healthy eating habits.

Start your day with a high-protein breakfast. Eating in the morning jump starts your metabolism for the day. Good breakfast foods include:

  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Oatmeal
  • Fresh fruit
  • Skim milk and cheese
  • Whole-grain toast

Eat several smaller meals throughout the day and have healthy snacks. Don’t skip meals. Your body goes into starvation mode and stops burning calories it you don’t eat at regular intervals.

Healthy foods and snacks to help you burn belly fat include:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Green tea
  • Walnuts, almonds and other nuts
  • Beans and legumes
  • Green vegetables
  • Lean meats and fish
  • Peanut butter
  • Whole grains

3. Get the right amount of sleep

Lack of sleep increases the likelihood you will gain weight. When you’re tired, you release more hormones that stimulate your appetite. By getting enough sleep – 7 to 8 hours per night – you can reduce your chances of gaining visceral fat. And, getting enough sleep is just good for your overall health.

4. Manage your stress

When you’re stressed, you may not make the best food choices. It’s easy to reach for comfort foods to help you feel better. In addition, when you’re anxious and stressed, your body goes into crisis mode. Your body will release stress hormones that actually contribute to weight gain. You can use relaxation techniques to control your stress levels and help manage your weight.

You can lose the belly fat and get ready for summer. It may take a little work, but it will be worth it! And you’ll be improving your overall health in so many ways.