These are hectic times. On average, we eat more, work longer hours, and sleep less than most European countries. We “thrive” on stress, fast food, stimulants and little sleep. It is no coincidence, then, that we also have the highest death rate from heart disease and obesity.
In fact, more sleep would lessen the need for stimulants (caffeine, prescription medication), would increase the levels of the leptin hormone, and give the body more time to relax from stress.
So, how much sleep do we need? I asked ten of my clients how many hours of sleep they needed to feel good throughout the day. The average answer was 7 hours. Then, I asked them, in reality, how much sleep did they get?
The average answer was 5.5 hours. A study in Quebec, Canada, showed that of the 740 men and women who were interviewed, those who reported getting
7 to 8 hours of sleep a night were leaner than those who reported 5 or 6 hours of sleep. This is due, in part, to the production of leptin.
Leptin is a hormone that is made predominately in the fat cells. The amount of leptin in the blood is directly proportional to the amount of body fat and is thought to decrease appetite. However, most obesity is characterized by resistance to leptin and its appetite-suppressing effect.
The participants who were getting less than 6 hours of sleep were thought to not be using leptin efficiently, therefore, their body fat percentage was higher.
In another study documented on www.shuteye.com, it reported that middle-aged women who slept an average of five hours or less nightly were more likely to have heart disease than women who slept eight hours. This was stated to be because “sleep loss may increase hunger and affect the body’s metabolism, which may make it more difficult to maintain or lose weight.”
So, in answer to all of those who say “How am I supposed to fit in 7-8 hours of sleep a night?” I give you the standard answer to the same question about exercise: “Schedule it”.
By Lynda Linforth