the more you sleep, the longer you live...
It’s done in bed, it feels great and most Americans don’t get enough of it. It’s sleep, of course, the most undervalued contributor to optimum health and performance.
Did you know that sleep had anything to do with success in sticking to a diet? Get to know leptin and ghrelin. They sound like a Hungarian comedy act, but they are hormones that regulate appetite. Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and signals the brain when it’s time to eat. Leptin is secreted by adipose tissue (i.e., fat) and has the reverse effect, telling your brain when you are full. Chronic lack of sleep increases ghrelin and decreases leptin, leading you to feel hungry when you don’t really need to eat and to keep eating after you have gotten the calories you need.
Hitting the weights at the gym? Good sleep will bring you the results you want more quickly. The body repairs itself, including rebuilding your sore biceps, during the deepest phase of sleep. That’s why a good night’s sleep will not only make your workouts more productive but will also boost your immune system in general.
Despite these and other benefits, including greater mental alertness, improved concentration, better mood – even lower risk of car accidents – sleep remains underrated when it comes to health promotion. Maybe people can’t believe that something as mundane as consistently getting seven or eight hours of sleep a night can have such a positive impact on their health. Or maybe, in a culture of double cappuccinos and Ambien, sleep deprivation goes unrecognized in the first place.
If you get stuck in a period of weeks or even months where sleep is hard to come by (e.g., new baby, a big work deadline), pay off your sleep debt with extra sleep as soon as you can and you should suffer no long-term ill effects. But don’t make sleep deprivation a lifelong habit. A study of almost 7,000 Alameda County residents, over a nine-year period, found that people who routinely slept six or fewer hours a night had about 70 percent higher risk of dying than did people of similar age who slept seven or eight hours a night.
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There are many common sense ways to make it easier to get to sleep, including keeping to a consistent schedule and avoiding big meals, caffeine and intense exercise just before bed. A full list of strategies is available from the National Institutes of Health at www.nhlbi. nih.gov/health/public/sleep/healthy sleepfs.pdf.
The Institute’s strategies for better sleep are useful, but they work only if you make sleep a priority, which many people in the compulsively busy Bay Area do not. If you think you don’t have time to sleep enough, remember that survey research shows that most people grossly underestimate how much time gets away from them in the evenings when they are idly surfing the Net or half-watching TV. If you feel tired, turn off the machines and go to bed. And if you believe you absolutely must see the next episode of “Big Brother” or a rerun of “Gilligan’s Island,” remember that TiVo and VCRs were invented so that we can watch such programs later, when we are rested enough to appreciate their nuanced messages and enduring contributions to our culture.
adapted from SFgate.com, by Dr. Keith Humphreys
One of the ultimate Zen like experiences is waking-up from a great slumber refreshed and energized. Your mind and body are harmoniously one, both alert and focused. Having a refreshed mind and body are two keys to a natural and Zen lifestyle. Waking up in the morning should not be a loud and abrupt awakening, but rather it should be a peaceful positive experience. The right natural alarm clock can transition your deep and tranquil sleep into a serene start to consciousness. Imagine a long-resonating Tibetan bell-like chime waking you up to a beautiful morning experience.
The right alarm clock can be the most beneficial investment for you. With our Now & Zen natural alarm clock you are awakened more gradually and thus more naturally. Now & Zen is focused on creating a naturalistic lifestyle, and our clocks are an example of our philosophy.
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Boulder, CO 80302
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