POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 30, 2010
One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your body is to get enough sleep. An enormous amount of sleep research conducted during the past 20 years has shed much light on its importance to our health.
In order to fully appreciate sleep and its role in keeping us healthy, remember that our wellness is dependent not only on a healthy body, but a healthy mental state. The two are inexorably linked to each other. Think of our bodies as one giant chemical-reaction center coupling numerous ingredients to power all our daily functions, such as whether we are hungry or satiated, happy or sad.
When our chemistry goes awry and life stresses seem to be getting unbearable, oftentimes a full night of sleep will balance all those chemical ingredients back to a stable state.
In the case of weight loss, numerous studies demonstrate the success of those who receive eight hours of sleep versus those who receive less. Here's one reason why:
Leptin and ghrelin are the two major chemicals or hormones that regulate our appetite and, thus, our weight gain or loss. Ghrelin, mainly produced by the pancreas and stomach, stimulates hunger, while leptin suppresses it.
It has been shown that people who regularly receive at least eight hours of sleep have lower levels of ghrelin and higher levels of leptin, while the opposite is true for those who consistently get less than eight hours of shut-eye.
Of course, this is a gross oversimplification of a complex process, but getting more sleep is always a good idea. It is a chance for our bodies to recover and regenerate all the things that were depleted throughout the day. Adding to the effect, after a full night of rejuvenating sleep, you will have more energy the next morning to get through your day and exercise as well.
Just remember, when the holidays bring everything to a more dramatic level, a good night's sleep might just be the thing to make it all the more bearable.