Friday, April 6, 2012

Guest Post: Love Thyself with Rest

Sleep is often not at the top of most peoples' priority lists. But maybe it should be. Edwina Clark, MS, RD, LDN explains why sleep is so important for your health. In turn, when you give yourself the time you need to rest, you health will improve and therefore your relationship with your body will improve. We all deserve a few more hours of shut eye!

Love Thyself with Rest

By: Edwina Clark, MS, RD, LDN

This is probably not the first time somebody has told you to get eight hours shut-eye. For generations, parents have been instilling the importance of rest in their children, only to see their efforts crumble as their kids enter into their sleep-deprived college years. From there, it continues. In fact, for most young women and men sleep-deprivation has become the norm. Longer hours, an increasingly competitive workforce and fewer bodies doing the work, mean that the bags under our eyes are darker than ever before. But at what price?

Turns out that your parents were onto something when they forced you into bed at 8:30pm. Poor sleep initiates a whole cascade of reactions that throw your body into a state of chaos. For example, inadequate sleep disrupts hunger and appetite hormones and creates an internal perception of inadequate energy. As a result, chips, cookies, candy and other junk creep onto the menu and sleep deprived children and adults are more likely to be overweight and obese.

Furthermore, skimping on the shut-eye is associated with a laundry list of health problems including increased risk of accident or injury; impaired cognitive function; elevated risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes; reduced sex drive; and depression. If you think you’re one of those people that can survive on a measly couple of hours, guess again. Sleep can impair your judgment, particularly about sleep!

So how much sleep do you need for health and happiness? Adults need 7-9 hours a night, while growing kids need a little more. If you’re a princess-and-the-pea type of sleeper, set yourself up for success with a cool, dark room, clean sheets and a regular sleeping routine. Keep computers, televisions and other electronics out of the bedroom, and wind down with some light reading material (US Weekly anyone?). There’s no better day than today to break the habit and hit the hay half an hour earlier. Your bright future starts in the bedroom!

Want to hear more from Edwina? Follow her on Twitter at @EdwinaTheRD.

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