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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

5 Things You Didn't Know About Sleep

12:19 PM Posted by Tiffany Taft , ,
We all know we should get enough sleep, but do we always take care to do so?  In this month's Monitor on Psychology the topic is sleep and how it impacts our health.  Some of these findings may surprise you.

1.  Sleep restrictions directly affect your weight.  Do you have "lose weight" as one of your New Year's resolutions?  Then you might want to evaluate your sleep habits.  A 2012 study in the American Journal of Human Biology found that sleeping less than 6 hours per night was significantly related to increased body mass index and obesity, especially in children and adolescents.  Reduced sleep changes your metabolism, appetite regulation, hunger, and food intake patterns.

2.  The less you sleep, the more unhealthy you eat.  Related to #1, but important regardless of if you're trying to lose weight, is that the less you sleep the poorer dietary choices you make.  People who sleep 5.5 hours or less per night consume more calories, especially from fatty foods, and are more likely to snack during the day.  Unfortunately, they're also not increasing their activity to burn off these extra calories.

Must. Eat. Bacon.
3.  Restricted sleep affects insulin resistance and immunity.  This factoid is important for any of our readers who are living with diabetes, as sleep deprivation can affect how well your body processes insulin.  A 2012 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that in people who get less sleep their bodies are about 30% less efficient in responding to insulin levels in the body.  Another interesting finding is that people who get less sleep are less responsive to immunizations in that antibodies to commonly given shots such as Hepatitis B or the flu are lower in people who have gotten less sleep.

Wait, I got a shot and it's not as effective?!
4.  Lack of sleep exaggerates your perception of pain.  Lack of sleep obviously impacts your mood.  People who are tired often feel irritable or depressed, and this can increase feelings of "bodily discomfort" - or aches and pains.  But more goes on beneath the surface.  A 2007 study in SLEEP found that sleep deprivation increases the body's production of a chemical called Interleukin (IL)-6 which is involved in pain sensitivity.  Higher levels of IL-6 lead to greater perceptions of bodily aches and pains. For our readers with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, IL-6 has been found to play a critical role in inflammation in IBD.

5.  Your boss has an impact on how well you sleep.  Stress has a direct impact on many people's ability to sleep, with many people reporting laying in bed awake thinking of the 87 things they need to get done at work by the end of the week.  But how does your boss affect your sleep habits?  A 2010 study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that people with less-supportive managers sleep about half an hour less per night, on average than those with supportive bosses.  So working for Lumbergh can have a direct effect on your sleep, which in turn can affect your health.

I'm also gonna need you to come in on Sunday, too.
So how's your sleep been?  Check out our blog entry on some tips to improve your sleep habits in as little as 2 weeks.