Over the last half a century, we have shaved off an average of two (precious) hours of sleep a night. According to a National Sleep Foundation poll a few years ago, 40 percent of adults say they get less than seven hours of sleep on a weeknight, compared with the seven to nine hours that are recommended.
Of course, most of us know this. We burn the midnight oil, we get up way before the kids just to get things done. Our days are go, go, go! And it’s often hard to stay asleep once we get there.
And while most of us know that too little sleep makes us cranky, less focused and less available to those who need us, did you know this?
• Bodies deprived of sleep produce less leptin, an appetite-regulating hormone; this increases our craving for sweets and salty carbohydrates.
• Shortened sleep produces metabolic changes. These may lead to diabetes or may alter the nervous system in a way that could contribute to high blood pressure and heart-rhythm irregularities.
• Insomnia substantially increases the risk of developing depression.
In short, not getting enough rest can affect both our mental and physical health much more than we thought. Here are some DOs and DON’Ts that will help you get healthful, renewing sleep more often.