Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Desperately Seeking Sleep

Two of the items I am trying to focus on this year losing weight and eating healthy, have both led me down the same path. In order to lose weight, I need to eat healthier. In order to lose weight, I also need to decrease stress and the inevitable sustained cortisol response and the negative effects it is having on my body. The more research I do about stress and ironically weight loss, I keep coming across one thing they both have in common, Sleep. Sleep and I have a long, troubled past. I have written about sleep before, here and here. Researches have long attributed sleep problems to depression, meaning if you are depressed, you might be more likely to have sleep problems. However, the tide is starting to change and now, studies are showing sleep problems may actually lead to depression. In fact, one study suggests those with sleep disturbances have a ten-fold chance of getting depression. Yet another viscous cycle, sleep problems may cause depression and depression may cause sleep problems. Another chicken or egg controversy.

Regardless of which came first, the sleep problems or the depression, it is becoming clear to me that fixing my sleep issues will be an important step to improving my health and losing weight. Not getting enough sleep has been linked with not only depression, but also weight gain and a decreased ability to manage stress, which has also been linked with weight gain and ironically sleep disorders.

If fixing sleep can help me reduce the negative effects of prolonged stress, lose weight and kick depression, I think it is a little important to start understanding sleep and get better at sleeping. So, I plan to focus more of my efforts on researching sleep and getting better at it.

One thing I read over and over is the importance of a sleep routine a controlled sleeping environment and the impact diet and exercise can have on sleep and sleep quality. So over the next few days, I will look at ways to improve my sleep and increase my sleep quality. Have you had sleep problems? The more I read, the more I realize it truly is one of the most chronic problems suffered by modern society. Everyone is trying to hack their sleep and come up with the next new supplement to get them there. I have even read about learning to function highly on fewer hours of sleep, but I am not interested in sleeping fewer hours, lets try getting some sleep before we worry about functioning on less sleep because clearly that is not working for me.


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