How Sleep Impacts Your Health Goals

Young man is trying to sleep with a pillow over his head.

It sounds like common sense to say that getting enough sleep is crucial to your health. But if you’re like most people, living a hectic modern lifestyle, it’s hard to prioritize sleep. After all, it feels like you’re just lying there, doing nothing. Who has time for that, when you have 1,000 goals to accomplish?

Well, research has shown that you should make time for sleep. Not only will you feel awful if you skip the shut-eye; you will actually sabotage your health goals.

Less sleep means a slower metabolism. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body can go into “preservation mode” which means it conserves energy to deal with stress factors in the environment. One of these energy conservation tactics is a slowed metabolism, meaning you won’t burn calories at an adequate rate, and you could gain weight.

You will crave comfort foods. Sleep helps to regulate appetite hormones like ghrelin and leptin, which regulate sensations like fullness. When these hormones are thrown off balance, you might find yourself craving fatty, sugary foods of the “comfort” variety.

You can jeopardize your workouts. You might be able to power through one or two workouts when sleep deprived, but you aren’t a Navy Seal in training. Eventually your will power will wane, and you will start cheating during workouts or skipping them altogether.

You will increase your risk of serious diseases. Aside from maintaining a reasonable weight for aesthetic or emotional reasons, your biggest health goal should be to prevent serious diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Lack of sleep can actually increase your incidence of risk factors for heart disease, such as increase heart rate and higher levels of inflammation.

Your immune system is damaged, too, meaning you might get sick more often. And one study found that subjects who slept less than six hours per night were twice as likely to develop diabetes. In other words, sleep is vital to preventing serious, even deadly, diseases. Get your eight hours tonight, and every night, and remember that sleep should remain high on your priority list.

Filed under: Healthy Living Tips