Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep

Most people don’t get enough sleep. We are a society that burns the candle at both ends, a nation where people stay up all night to study, work, or have fun. However, going without adequate sleep carries with it both short- and long-term consequences.
In the short term, a lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.
Healthy Sleep: A resource from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School
"The fact that extending sleep led to a reduction in intake of free sugars -- the sugars that are added to foods by manufacturers or in cooking at home as well as sugars in honey, syrups and fruit juice -- suggests a simple change in lifestyle may really help people to consume healthier diets."
Dr. Wendy Hall, Department of Nutritional Sciences, King's College London

"Sleep duration and quality is an area of increasing public health concern and has been linked as a risk factor for various conditions."
"We have shown [through research] that sleep habits can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults using a personalized approach."
"Our results also suggest that increasing time in bed for an hour or so longer may lead to healthier food choices."
Haya Al Khatib, lead researcher, study

We all know that sleep deficits make us cranky and prone to malfunction, both physically and mentally. Missing sleeping hours occurs to most people on occasion, and there are always plans to 'make it up' at a later date, possibly in the days following that night when lack of adequate rest made us feel groggy and ill-tempered as morning dawned and we wrested ourselves out of bed to face the day.

The medical community is fairly firm, the conclusion beyond doubt, that lack of sleep leads to a dissatisfying day in the short term and health consequences in the long term. Now, a new study out of King's College London has found that people who sleep for longer periods at night are less likely to reach for sweetened foods or comforting carbohydrates. Sleep deficits were acknowledged previously to represent a risk factor for obesity, altering hormone levels which control appetite.

What this study concluded was that by getting more sleep -- an additional 90 minutes of it optimally -- people tended to select healthier food choices within a week, ending up consuming an average ten grams less sugar daily. The study trial enlisted twenty-one volunteers who slept for fewer than the recommended seven hours a night, who were exposed to counselling in a bid to help change their sleep habits.

Each was then asked to maintain a constant bedtime, to resist drinking caffeine before bedtime and not to eat anything close to retiring for the night. Instead, to just relax and be comfortable through the evening hours before heading to bed. An average of 90 minutes was added by each of the volunteers to their daily sleep patterns over the seven-day study period. By week's end, they were consuming less sugar and carbohydrates than they had at the beginning of the week.

As for the control group whose sleep failed to improve, no such change was seen; their sleeping patterns remaining the same deficit-laden events, ensured that they would also continue reaching for comfort foods high in carbohydrates, and sweetened 'treat' foods. Previous studies undertaken over the years had already observed the connection between short sleep periods and poorer quality diets.

Most of us need around eight hours of good-quality sleep a night to function properly – but some need more and some less. What matters is that you find out how much sleep you need and then try to achieve it.
As a general rule, if you wake up tired and spend the day longing for a chance to have a nap, it’s likely that you’re not getting enough sleep.
A variety of factors can cause poor sleep, including health conditions such as sleep apnoea. But in most cases, it’s due to bad sleeping habits.
National Health Services (NHS.UK) 

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