Most of my life, I loved to sleep. Truly, it was a favorite pastime. I could sleep when I was actually physically tired, but I could also snooze away tension, boredom, and unwelcome visitors. My ability to sleep through anything was a gift, which I didn’t appreciate at the time.
Now that I’m older, getting the recommended seven or eight hours a night is tough. In my teenage years, I could sleep that long, get up and eat, and sleep another four or five hours. I’m not suggesting oversleeping is healthy; it comes with health risks of its own, but not getting a full night’s sleep can make life difficult in different ways.
Studies have linked lack of sleep with weight gain. People who sleep too little tend to be heavier. This effect could be tied to metabolism problems that result from not enough sleep, or it could happen because poor sleepers like me wake up in the middle of the night, turn on the TV and eat an extra meal. Snacking at three a.m. is not going to help anyone’s silhouette.
On the flip side, people who get enough sleep eat better and maintain a healthy weight more easily. This brings up the question of which came first: the fried chicken or the cholesterol-ridden egg? Do healthy eaters just sleep better? Or do better sleepers just eat better?
The various indignities of age also can limit sleep. If, like me, you are slightly over the age of 40 (Okay, 50), your chemical balance is more likely to be unbalanced, leading to insomnia. Women’s hormones turn into vile beasts and constantly interrupt their sleep. Lack of sleep can cause cognitive problems, including fuzzy thinking and memory loss. Men have their own hormonal issues and can also suffer from poor sleep, making them grumpy, but more importantly, affecting their health.
Since getting my eight hours is a difficult business these days, I have to watch when I exercise (mornings at a Chicago athletic club are best) and how much caffeine I drink (so unfair). Activities that over-stimulate me after six p.m. kill my sleep, meaning the excitement of watching “Storage Wars” is out.
A full night’s sleep is necessary for the body to replenish itself. Depriving the body of all the sleep it needs can make you grumpy, heavy, and forgetful: all the things no one wants to be. If sleep difficulties exist, consult your physician to lose weight and attitude back on the right track. Visit http://www.equinox.com/ for more information