For as much flack as the traditional 9-to-5 job often gets, working any other shift that is not in sync with your body clock, Mother Nature and the overall rhythm of life just sucks, quite frankly.
I’ve learned the hard way that when you are on a non-normal schedule it is much more tough to get your eight or nine hours of shut-eye — especially if you have to sleep during daylight hours.
I know a good chunk of my readers work those shifts, are in school, work a couple of jobs, clock in at 11pm or 5am or 2pm… and I want you to know that it’s still essential that you get enough sleep within your 24-hour cycle.
Not getting enough Z’s has a long list of health effects — including weight gain.
It was not uncommon for many years (and sadly, sometimes still to this day) to get four or five hours and call it a full night’s worth. We try and want to do so much in our daily lives. We’re proud of the fact that we sleep so little and (think we) accomplish so much. “I can sleep when I’m dead!” Well, if you don’t get enough sleep, that could happen sooner rather than later.
But when we get such little sleep, our minds act differently.
Stanford researchers found that people most affected by a lack of sleep had their brains affected in the region responsible for distinguishing between short-term instantaneous gratification and long-term goals.
Now, think about that for a moment:
I have gotten up in the morning after a short sleep session and instantly wanted, craved and went & ate McDonalds. But on the mornings when I’ve had 7-8 hours, I get up, wash my face, meditate and do some stretching, have some water or tea and then go in search of a nutritious & delicious breakfast. There’s a difference. A HUGE difference.
McDonalds = a short-term treat. We like it in the moment but afterward we feel as if the entire day is ruined, so LET’S SNOWBALL and keep stuffing our bellies with fats & sugars!
A better breakfast (I like that term as opposed to a healthy or nutritious breakfast because so many people see those words as unfulfilling) of a spinach omelette or oatmeal with fruit & nuts or a fruit & veggie smoothie gets you toward that long-term goal and maintaining it!
And there’s even more research to back that up.
In a recent report presented by the American Heart Association, researchers found people who were sleep deprived often ate more than 500 additional calories daily. And we’re not talking spinach-wrap calories, here, sister. We’re talking muffins, cookies, cream-filled coffee drinks, fried foods, pizza, etc.
Now that you know all of this, you may be asking yourself, “How much sleep do I really need?” Because you CAN over-sleep which has negative effects on the opposite end of the health spectrum.
Here’s my answer: Trial and error. Test it out and see. I went through a test phase and found I need 9 hours of quality rest to have a great day. 9 hours! That’s a lot when you factor in a full-time job and a slew of other projects, on top of working out! But sleep is the beginning and end point. It is pivotal. A must. A necessity, not a luxury. The general ballpark is 7-to-8 hours.
Finally — your body needs sufficient time to rest, recover, recoup and repair itself and to prepare for the challenges and triumphs that are still to come. Churning along a body that has not had much-needed R&R will only hinder the results you seek. As one clinical director puts it, “If you accumulate too much sleep debt, your body will crash.”
In one of my next posts, I will be talking about two things:
1. What to do in the final few hours before you hit the hay in order to maximize your sleep
2. The correlation between stress and eating, because often times that topic is brought up when I talk to clients about sleep and eating. Sleep, stress, eating — it’s all intertwined.
If you or someone you know wants a life-changing revolution, or are just looking for ways to be healthier, be more active, eat better and need some help or guidance, contact me. I train, consult and work with people of all ages, with an emphasis on kids and families.