Special Report

/Special Report
Special Report2018-10-17T18:24:51+00:00

Special Report: The Deadly Link Between Sleep Quality, Weight Gain and Obesity.

Why Your Lack of Quality Sleep May Severely Limit Your Quality of Life or Even Kill You

The links between being overweight or obese and health risks are well known and documented. Being overweight or obese increases your susceptibility to many diseases and physical ailments including:

  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammation
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Reproductive Problems
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Memory and Concentration
  • Skin tone and physical appearance
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Mental Illness

What is not as well known, but has, in recent years become more and more apparent, is the significant link between weight gain, obesity, the inability to lose weight, and sleep quality. In fact, not only does sleep play a major role in your ability to lose weight or your predisposition to gain weight, but lack of sleep is also plays a significant role in all of the serious health problems listed above.

Simply put: it is nearly impossible to reverse or prevent weight gain or obesity without quality sleep. And it is equally impossible to reverse the negative health effects of obesity without enough quality sleep.

How does lack of sleep lead to weight gain? There are multiple ways, including:

  • Hormone imbalance can cause overeating and inability to stop eating
  • Increased calorie intake related to extra hours awake
  • Impaired judgment regarding food choices
  • Overall fatigue leads to lethargy, reduced activity
  • Underslept people are inclined to eat more take out, fast food and comfort foods
  • When over tired, your body tends to crave carbohydrates, particularly low quality carbs
  • Combination of above factors causes body to store fat and burn muscle for energy
  • Lack of sleep is linked to depression. Depression is linked to over-eating, particularly more fattening foods
  • Lack of sleep inhibits the body’s natural production and release of Human Growth Hormone, which tends to increase muscle gain and fat loss.

How does being overweight cause sleep disruption?

  • Being overweight or obese creates a high likelihood of Sleep Apnea, which interrupts and breaks down sleep quality
  • Being overweight or obese makes back and joint pain more likely, leading to discomfort and reduced sleep quality
  • Being overweight or obese leads to greater pressure points on the body during sleep, inhibiting blood flow and causing increased movement during sleep, interrupting sleep cycles
  • Obesity and depression are strongly linked, as are depression and insomnia
  • Overweight and obese people often lack energy and motivation to move around and exercise. Lack of exercise is linked to reduced sleep quality.

When quality sleep is lacking, hormone balance is interrupted. In particular, poor sleep causes an increase in the hormone Grhelin, which is the hormone that controls appetite. When Ghrelin levels are increased, the body increases its demand for calories, and especially calories from low quality carbohydrates and fats such as those found in junk foods like chips, cookies, etc. The lack of quality sleep suppresses production of the hormone Leptin, which tells us when we are full and to stop eating. This hormone imbalance alone can often cause a weight game of as much as 2 pounds per week.

When we are tired, our judgment can be impaired, leading to poor choices. When feeling tired and sleepy in the afternoon, we may reach for caffeine in many forms, as well as an energy boost from foods like donuts, candy, or chips. The caffeine stays in our system affecting ability to get to sleep as well as sleep quality. The junk food wreaks havoc on our insulin levels, causing the body to store increased fat.
Meanwhile, fatigue often reduces our energy levels and motivation. Instead of engaging in calorie burning activities like walking, running, going to the gym, or even cooking or playing with the kids, etc, we opt for fast food take out, and sitting in front of the TV where we continue to ingest unhealthy calories from snacks or alcohol. When we are tired, our bodies tend to crave the very foods that we should be avoiding such as chips, cookies, sodas, etc.

These cycles of fatigue, poor eating, weight gain and lack of activity give us a tendency to depression. In turn, depression often drives an increase in our poor eating habits, In addition, depression often leads to mild to severe insomnia, making it difficult to impossible to sleep, despite fatigue and lethargy. And when we can’t sleep, we eat.

The World is Not Flat, And Neither Are We

Contributing to the inability to get quality sleep is a combination of extra weight, less than adequate mattress comfort and support, and the negative effects of trying to sleep on a flat surface. Yes, that is correct. You are probably sleeping wrong. We have been conditioned all our lives to sleep flat, often on surfaces that are firm and unyielding.

THE HUMAN BODY IS NOT FLAT! We are curvy and angular, with jutting hips and broad shoulders. We are anything but flat or symmetrical. And yet we try to find comfort lying flat. It really doesn’t make great sense. For when we lie flat in bed, particularly if we are carrying and supporting too much weight, our hips and shoulders carry a disproportionate amount of that weight, and are literally crushed against our mattresses. This results in excessive stress on our joints, pain from pressure points, pain resulting from unbalanced and inadequate back support, and reduced circulation.

When lying flat against a mattress, particularly a too firm mattress, our bodies are at the mercy of gravity, and the effect on us can be devastating. From chronic pain to quality sleep deprivation, we are slowly breaking down our bodies and our health night after night.
Now consider that we have been laying flat to sleep literally since birth. Year after year of the relentless downward pull of gravity on our bodies. By the age of 40 we have spent something close to 13 years of our lives this way! Chances are that you, and nearly everyone you know, suffers from some degree of back pain, neck pain, joint pain and interrupted sleep caused by a mismatch of your body, your mattress, and your sleep position.

The fact is, we need to reconsider HOW we sleep, because we’ve been doing it wrong. More on that in a minute.

  1. For now, let’s circle back to the truly frightening correlations between lack of sleep and myriad ailments and disease. In fact, this is so critical that we are repeating this list. Lack of sleep is a key contributing cause of, or a critical factor in the worsening of:
  2. Heart Disease
  3. Diabetes
  4. Inflammation
  5. High Blood Pressure
  6. Stroke
  7. Cancer
  8. Osteoarthritis
  9. Reproductive Problems
  10. Stress
  11. Depression
  12. Memory and Concentration
  13. Skin tone and physical appearance
  14. Weakened Immune System
  15. Mental Illness

And yet, we still manage to NOT take sleep as seriously as we should, and often ignore healthy sleep habits in favor of other activities. And it is KILLING us. In fact, research has shown that lack of quality sleep alone increases the risk of premature death by 12%.

We’ve all heard people joke that “I’ll get plenty of sleep when I’m dead.” Well, that is a self fulfilling prophecy.

Let’s take a look at some of the major health risks associated with lack of sufficient quality sleep:

Heart Health. Heart attacks and strokes are more common during the early morning hours. This fact may be explained by the way sleep interacts with the blood vessels. Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Your heart will be healthier if you get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.

Sleep is essential for a healthy heart. People who don’t sleep enough are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease—regardless of age, weight, smoking and exercise habits. One study that examined data from 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who got fewer than 6 hours of quality sleep per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night.

It’s not completely clear why less sleep is detrimental to heart health, but researchers understand that sleeping too little causes disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation.

Heart health isn’t just a concern for older adults.

Getting too little sleep can be just as dangerous for young people as well, with negative consequences in physical, emotional and mental development. Studies have shown that poor sleep among adolescents resulted in elevated cholesterol levels, greater waist sizes, higher blood pressure levels and larger body mass index, as well as greater risk of hypertension. Of course, all of this means that reduced sleep puts youth at a much higher risk for cardiovascular disease throughout life. Sleep is critical at all ages!

Sleep and diabetes. Lack of sleep has been clearly shown to increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This goes hand in hand with the connections between poor sleep and obesity – also shown to be a clear causal factor in developing type 2 diabetes. And it doesn’t take very many nights of poor sleep to trigger the process.

According to a 2007 study at the University of Chicago, it only takes 3 consecutive nights of poor or inadequate sleep to boost the risk level for type 2 diabetes as much as gaining 20 to 30 pounds. Just 3 nights!

Eve Van Cauter, PHD, the author of the study and a professor of medicine at UC is quoted as saying “Sleep may be as important as exercise or diet when it comes to developing diabetes.” And research from Yale showed that men and women sleeping 6 hours or less nightly have double the likelihood of developing diabetes as those that get 7 hours or more. Double the risk! And that is without the added risk factors of being overweight or obese.

How Diabetes, Obesity and Sleep Loss are Connected. You develop diabetes when your system cannot effectively break down glucose (blood sugar), resulting in depriving your cells of the energy they need for proper function. Being overweight hugely impacts your risk of this breakdown of the body’s ability to break down glucose. The excess fat inhibits the cellular ability to utilize the hormone insulin which regulates your glucose levels.

This is where sleep comes in, in a major way. Without adequate sleep, your body requires more and more insulin to keep glucose levels normal. And the effects of poor sleep manifest quickly – after just a couple of nights. Lack of sleep throws our body’s stress management systems out of whack, wreaking havoc with our hormonal balance, and just like that our glucose levels are no longer where they should be, and this elevation in blood sugar levels leaves us vulnerable to diabetes.

Complicating this equation, as we already mentioned, is what hormonal imbalance caused by lack of sleep does to our appetites. When fatigued, we are driven to overeat and to crave calories and low quality carbohydrates. We are seeking quick energy, and our hormonal cravings combined with our fatigue lead us to make food choices that simply make all aspects of these problems worse.

If you are genetically pre disposed for high risk of diabetes, low sleep quality will almost certainly push you to develop diabetes more quickly. But even those with no family history or genetic disposition at least double their risk when they fail to get adequate quality sleep on a continual basis. Ignore this at your own peril.

On the positive side, the sleep-diabetes correlation CAN be reversed. By committing yourself to getting more and better quality sleep consistently, the impact of sleep on your hormonal imbalance can be stopped, and your system can quickly restore itself to a more balanced state. Then with proper diet and exercise you can increase your odds of living a Diabetes 2 free life.

Sleep prevents inflammation. An increase in stress hormones related to sleep loss raises the level of inflammation in your body, also creating more risk for heart-related conditions, as well as cancer and diabetes. Inflammation is thought to be one of the causes of the deterioration of your body as you age.

Lack of Sleep May Contribute to High Blood Pressure. Research has shown a direct link between blood pressure and sleep quality/quantity. In short, reduced quality sleep (6 hours or less per night) raises average at rest blood pressure levels by about 10%. Years of study have also shown that higher blood pressure levels, especially during the night, are one of the major risk factors for heart disease. Note the inter-related nature of weight gain, obesity, sleep apnea, and sleep interruption. These deadly combinations are putting you at risk for serious health problems and potential premature death.

Lack of Sleep Quality Increases Stroke Risk. Multiple studies have overwhelmingly shown a pronounced increase in stroke risk for those who sleep 6 hours or less nightly. Warwick medical school looked at evidence from nearly a half million participants in 8 countries, including the U.S. and concluded that sleeping less than 6 hours nightly increases stroke risk by 15% and heart disease risk by an eye popping 48%!

The doctor in charge of the study is quoted as stating “The trend for late nights and early mornings is actually a ticking time bomb for our health so you need to act now to reduce your risk of developing these life threatening conditions.”

Another study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham concluded that too little sleep actually quadruples the risk of stroke symptoms in healthy, normal weight people over the age of 45.

Lack of Sleep and Cancer Risk: The links between sleep deprivation and cancer are extensive. Some examples:

  1. Tumors grow 2 to 3 times faster in laboratory animals with severe sleep dysfunction, primarily due to lack of melatonin production
  2. Men who suffer insomnia run a twofold risk of developing prostate cancer
  3. Sleeping less than 6 hours a night leaves both men and women with a 50% greater likelihood of developing colorectal cancer.
  4. Aggressive breast cancers are associated with inadequate sleep.
  5. Researchers have consistently linked night shift workers with higher rates of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, as well as breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers. (Night shift workers are also much more susceptible to obesity and diabetes).
  6. As noted, lack of sleep and obesity are closely link, and obese women are thought to be 60% more likely to develop breast cancer than normal weight women.

Lack of Sleep and Osteoarthritis: This is another vicious circle as lack of sleep has been clearly shown to increase joint pain, while chronic joint pain leads to increased sleep interruption. Interestingly, joint pain also somehow seems to disrupt your sleep partner’s sleep quality as well, although definitive reasons for this have not been established.
Excessive weight is thought to be one of the causes of osteoarthritis.

Sleep Deprivation and Reproductive Issues: There are several ways in which lack of sleep can impact fertility in both men and women. The same part of the brain that regulates sleep/wake hormones such as cortisol and melatonin also triggers the daily release of reproductive hormones.

If you are a woman, long term lack of sleep may affect the release of luteinizing hormone, the hormone that triggers ovulation. In men, sperm maturation may be diminished by lack of sleep.

Additionally, the moodiness and irritability that frequently accompany lack of sleep may reduce the opportunities for pregnancy to occur. Plus, lack of sleep and obesity both contribute to your risk of diseases that can directly impact fertility, including heart disease, additional weight gain, and diabetes.

Sleep deprivation during pregnancy can trigger or exacerbate depression and inflammation, and result in complications that can result in preterm delivery and low birth weight, among other potential problems.

Sleep reduces stress: When your body is sleep deficient, it goes into a state of stress. The body’s functions are put on high alert which causes an increase in blood pressure and a production of stress hormones. Higher blood pressure increases your risk for heart attacks and strokes. The stress hormones also, unfortunately, make it harder for you to sleep.

Sleep apnea can have deadly consequences: One of the reasons we know how vital sleep is to the heart is that patients with sleep apnea (which causes them to wake frequently throughout the night) often have compromised heart health. This is because without long, deep periods of rest, certain chemicals are activated that keep the body from achieving extended periods in which heart rate and blood pressure are lowered. Over time, this can lead to higher blood pressure during the day and a greater chance of cardiovascular problems.

Many studies have shown the relationship between sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease. One found that over an eight-year period, men with severe sleep apnea were 58 percent more likely to develop congestive heart failure than men without the nighttime breathing disorder. But it doesn’t take a severe underlying sleep disorder to see effects on the heart. Poor sleeping (as a result of changing work schedules or poor sleep habits, for example) can put you at risk as well. Weight gain and obesity are shown to increase your likelihood of sleep apnea. Conversely, sleep apnea can often lead to additional weight gain.

Many benefits and functions of sleep are taken for granted. Simply put, it is impossible to live your best life, or perform at your highest levels physically, mentally, and emotionally without quality sleep.

“New research shows that sleeping better is one of the simplest and most effective things we can do to vastly enhance and extend our lives.

It’s time we learned to value sleep not as a luxury, but as a necessity. If we want to raise performance, reduce illness, improve general satisfaction with life and increase lifespan, we must pay attention to sleep as a fundamental biological process.-Dr. James Maas

If you are not getting enough sleep, you are not living life to its fullest potential. Some of the direct benefits of sleep that are overlooked or taken for granted include:

  • Sleep makes you more alert
  • Sleep may reduce the risk of depression
  • Sleep helps the body repair itself
  • Sleep makes you smarter
  • Sleep improves focus and concentration
  • Sleep boosts the immune system
  • Sleep improves your appearance
  • Sleep bolsters memory

Take a good look at that list. Think about areas of conflict, disappointment or stress in your life. Would better sleep allow you to perform at a higher level in your career? Are conflicts with your spouse or your family possibly related to poor sleep, causing irritability and a lack of restraint regarding conflict? Do you feel tired, run down, apathetic? Are you forgetful, or more susceptible to colds and flu? Does it take longer to “get over” common ailments? Do you look tired? Is your skin tone dull? Are you “down in the dumps” more than is normal? If you answered yes to any of these, you may not be getting enough quality sleep. Let’s look at some of the positive effects of quality sleep.

Sleep makes you more alert: Of course, a good night’s sleep makes you feel energized and alert the next day. Being engaged and active not only feels great, it increases your chances for another good night’s sleep. When you wake up feeling refreshed, use that energy to get out into the daylight, do active things, and be engaged in your world. You’ll sleep better the next night and increase your daily energy level.

When you are alert you pick up clues from the world that you might otherwise miss or misread. You will be more intuitive and better able to “read” others. You will be much less prone to accidents large and small. Did you know that the National Transportation and Safety Board attributes over 100,000 auto accidents annually to lack of sleep as a contributing factor?

Sleep may reduce the risk of depression. Sleep impacts many of the chemicals in your body, including serotonin. People with a deficiency in serotonin are more likely to suffer from depression. You can help to prevent depression by making sure you are getting the right amount of sleep, between 7 and 9 hours each night.

Depression and insomnia are closely linked in the worst way: Lack of sleep increases your chances of depression, and depression often leads to insomnia.

Sleep also plays a part in other mental illnesses such as Bi-polar disorders and schizophrenia.

If you have school or college age children, it is critically important that they are getting enough sleep. Depression and mental illness are manifesting themselves more and more in our schools and on our college campuses. Encourage your children to sleep!

Sleep helps the body repair itself: Sleep is a time for your body to repair damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposures. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping. These protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair damage.

If you are making an effort to improve your physical condition by working out, be aware of this fact: NO ONE ever got more fit, more toned, or built more muscle during a workout. The gains come during REST. That’s when the body repairs itself, and converts your hard work to the results you seek. If you are wearing yourself out in the gym, but not sleeping well, then all you are doing is wearing yourself out in the gym.

Sleep makes you smarter: Can you remember those college nights when you would stay up cramming for a final exam? Did you know that losing sleep probably hurt you more than if you wouldn’t have studied as much? Research shows that individuals who get a full 7-8 hour of sleep after learning a skill retain more information as opposed to those that stay up all night mastering that same skill. When you sleep, your brain gets a chance to digest and process information from the previous day. Missing this processing time can prove to be costly.

In a study conducted at St. Lawrence University, it was concluded that staying up late and cramming resulted in a GPA of 2.9, while getting 8-9 hours sleep instead resulted in a GPA of 3.1 in the studied group.

Sleep improves concentration: Those that don’t get enough sleep tend to be more irritable and make more mistakes. Reaction time is also significantly decreased by a lack of sleep. As a matter of fact, a lack of sleep is sometimes compared to alcohol consumption while driving. As already noted, thousands of highway accidents are attributed to drowsy driving.

Do you ever find yourself losing your train of thought while speaking. Or realizing you haven’t heard what the person you are conversing with just said. These concentration lapses can seriously impact your relationships, your career, and your safety.

Sleep Boosts the Immune System: If you get the right amount of sleep per night (7-8 hours for most of us), your body will be able to fight off infections and diseases much easier. Have you ever noticed the times when you are lacking sleep? This is usually when you catch a cold or the flu. It is no coincidence. Think of the last time you were sick with the flu or recovering from surgery. What did you want to do? Sleep. Your doctor’s advice was to get plenty of rest during recuperation. Why? It’s during times of deep sleep that your body’s own healing mechanism kicks into overdrive and works to repair what needs to be fixed. Skimp on sleep during illness or recuperation and it takes you longer to shake off the illness and heal.

Sleep Improves Appearance: Have you ever heard the term “beauty sleep”? As a matter of fact, skin, muscle, blood, and brain regeneration happens during the sleep cycles. If you deprive your body of this necessary regeneration, your skin will begin to age and dark circles will appear under your eyes.

According to research by Estee Lauder, lack of sleep makes your skin age faster, and reduces the skin’s ability to recover from sun exposure. Skin makes new collagen while you sleep, helping to prevent those fine lines and wrinkles.

Sleep also contributes to healthier, fuller hair, as well as a healthy glow to your skin. In short, you will look happier and healthier when well rested.

Sleep bolsters memory: Researchers do not fully understand why we sleep and dream, but a process called memory consolidation occurs during sleep. While your body may be resting, your brain is busy processing your day, making connections between events, sensory input, feelings and memories. Your dreams and deep sleep are an important time for your brain to make memories and links. Getting more quality sleep will help you remember and process things better.

As noted previously, people who are sleep deficient are more likely to experience diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as narrowed blood vessels. All of these can restrict blood flow within the brain. Brain cells need a large and constant supply of oxygen and sugar, and reduced blood flow activity can impact their ability to properly function.

Lack of sleep also results in the deposit of a protein named beta amyloid. Beta amyloid deposits have been linked to declines in memory and thinking and increase the risk of dementia.

Take a good look at that list. Think about areas of conflict, disappointment or stress in your life. Would better sleep allow you to perform at a higher level in your career? Are conflicts with your spouse or your family possibly related to poor sleep, causing irritability and a lack of restraint regarding conflict? Do you feel tired, run down, apathetic? Are you forgetful, or more susceptible to colds and flu? Does it take longer to “get over” common ailments? Do you look tired? Is your skin tone dull? Are you “down in the dumps” more than is normal? If you answered yes to any of these, you may not be getting enough quality sleep. Let’s look at some of the positive effects of quality sleep.

Sleep makes you more alert: Of course, a good night’s sleep makes you feel energized and alert the next day. Being engaged and active not only feels great, it increases your chances for another good night’s sleep. When you wake up feeling refreshed, use that energy to get out into the daylight, do active things, and be engaged in your world. You’ll sleep better the next night and increase your daily energy level.

When you are alert you pick up clues from the world that you might otherwise miss or misread. You will be more intuitive and better able to “read” others. You will be much less prone to accidents large and small. Did you know that the National Transportation and Safety Board attributes over 100,000 auto accidents annually to lack of sleep as a contributing factor?

Sleep may reduce the risk of depression: Sleep impacts many of the chemicals in your body, including serotonin. People with a deficiency in serotonin are more likely to suffer from depression. You can help to prevent depression by making sure you are getting the right amount of sleep, between 7 and 9 hours each night.

Depression and insomnia are closely linked in the worst way. Lack of sleep increases your chances of depression, and depression often leads to insomnia.

Sleep also plays a part in other mental illnesses such as Bi-polar disorders and schizophrenia.

If you have school or college age children, it is critically important that they are getting enough sleep. Depression and mental illness are manifesting themselves more and more in our schools and on our college campuses. Encourage your children to sleep!

Sleep helps the body repair itself: Sleep is a time for your body to repair damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposures. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping. These protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair damage.

If you are making an effort to improve your physical condition by working out, be aware of this fact: NO ONE ever got more fit, more toned, or built more muscle during a workout. The gains come during REST. That’s when the body repairs itself, and converts your hard work to the results you seek. If you are wearing yourself out in the gym, but not sleeping well, then all you are doing is wearing yourself out in the gym.

Sleep makes you smarter: Can you remember those college nights when you would stay up cramming for a final exam? Did you know that losing sleep probably hurt you more than if you wouldn’t have studied as much? Research shows that individuals who get a full 7-8 hour of sleep after learning a skill retain more information as opposed to those that stay up all night mastering that same skill. When you sleep, your brain gets a chance to digest and process information from the previous day. Missing this processing time can prove to be costly.

In a study conducted at St. Lawrence University, it was concluded that staying up late and cramming resulted in a GPA of 2.9, while getting 8-9 hours sleep instead resulted in a GPA of 3.1 in the studied group.

Sleep improves concentration: Those that don’t get enough sleep tend to be more irritable and make more mistakes. Reaction time is also significantly decreased by a lack of sleep. As a matter of fact, a lack of sleep is sometimes compared to alcohol consumption while driving. As already noted, thousands of highway accidents are attributed to drowsy driving.

Do you ever find yourself losing your train of thought while speaking. Or realizing you haven’t heard what the person you are conversing with just said. These concentration lapses can seriously impact your relationships, your career, and your safety.

Sleep Boosts the Immune System: If you get the right amount of sleep per night (7-8 hours for most of us), your body will be able to fight off infections and diseases much easier. Have you ever noticed the times when you are lacking sleep? This is usually when you catch a cold or the flu. It is no coincidence. Think of the last time you were sick with the flu or recovering from surgery. What did you want to do? Sleep. Your doctor’s advice was to get plenty of rest during recuperation. Why? It’s during times of deep sleep that your body’s own healing mechanism kicks into overdrive and works to repair what needs to be fixed. Skimp on sleep during illness or recuperation and it takes you longer to shake off the illness and heal.

Sleep Improves Appearance: Have you ever heard the term “beauty sleep”? As a matter of fact, skin, muscle, blood, and brain regeneration happens during the sleep cycles. If you deprive your body of this necessary regeneration, your skin will begin to age and dark circles will appear under your eyes.

According to research by Estee Lauder, lack of sleep makes your skin age faster, and reduces the skin’s ability to recover from sun exposure. Skin makes new collagen while you sleep, helping to prevent those fine lines and wrinkles.

Sleep also contributes to healthier, fuller hair, as well as a healthy glow to your skin. In short, you will look happier and healthier when well rested.

Sleep bolsters memory: Researchers do not fully understand why we sleep and dream, but a process called memory consolidation occurs during sleep. While your body may be resting, your brain is busy processing your day, making connections between events, sensory input, feelings and memories. Your dreams and deep sleep are an important time for your brain to make memories and links. Getting more quality sleep will help you remember and process things better.

As noted previously, people who are sleep deficient are more likely to experience diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as narrowed blood vessels. All of these can restrict blood flow within the brain. Brain cells need a large and constant supply of oxygen and sugar, and reduced blood flow activity can impact their ability to properly function.

Lack of sleep also results in the deposit of a protein named beta amyloid. Beta amyloid deposits have been linked to declines in memory and thinking and increase the risk of dementia.

Quality Sleep is the Very Foundation of a Quality Life

So we now know that quality sleep may in fact be the single most important factor in our overall health and wellness. So how do we improve our sleep?

There are several key components of our sleep health:

  1. Our pre-sleep routines
  2. Our sleep environment
  3. Our sleep positioning
  4. What we sleep on

Diet and Exercise: In this report, we are not going to spend a lot of time on diet and exercise, as much of what relates to sleep is common sense. However, here are some key points regarding diet and exercise as they relate to sleep:

  • Beginning in early afternoon, reduce or eliminate caffeine consumption. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 8 hours. Caffeine sensitivities vary, but nearly everyone has some caffeine reaction
  • Try to have your final meal of the day at least 2-3 hours prior to bed time.
  • By all means, get regular exercise, but try not to exercise too closely to bedtime. Experts recommend at least 3 hours between vigorous exercise and bedtime (except sex – sex is great for sleeping).
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine in the last hours before sleep
  • If you need a late snack, try a low carbohydrate item such as string cheese.
  • Don’t drink a lot in the last 2 hours before bed to cut down on bathroom trips. If you need to drink something try a cup of chamomile tea.

Pre Sleep Routines: These routines are vitally important, and extremely controversial to some. We get it. You are busy, busy, busy and can’t possibly make changes in your life to accommodate a healthy pre sleep routine. We have the same issues. However, based on everything we know, this is literally a life or death choice. You can choose to prioritize healthy sleep, or you can be a ticking time bomb with a much, much higher risk of severe illness, disease or death. The choice is yours. Healthy pre sleep routines include:

  • Turn off the screens. All of them. TV, Notebook, Phone, iPad. Turn them off at least an hour before sleep. Numerous studies have shown connections between these screens and difficulties sleeping. Instead, read a book (a real one, not on Kindle). And absolutely no screens glowing in your bedroom
  • Take a relaxing bath
  • < >Write in a journal.
  • Have a quiet, relaxing conversation. Not about work or other stressful topics
  • Relaxing sex
  • Set routines. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day and night
  • Avoid daytime naps if possible. If you must nap, 10 minutes will leave you refreshed and will be less likely to interfere with your nighttime sleep.

Sleep Environment: Where we sleep is critically important to how we sleep. Many, many people with sleep deprivation ignore this fundamental. Here are some things to consider regarding your bedroom:

  1. KEEP IT DARK. We cannot stress this enough. NO ambient light. Black out shades. No screens glowing. Turn your digital clock to the wall. KEEP THE ROOM DARK.
  2. White noise. Little sounds can make sleeping so difficult. Turn on a fan (the air circulation is also good), or use a white noise machine.
  3. We will never win this one, but we have to say it anyway. Your bed is for you and your spouse. We know how much you love your pets, but they do NOT belong in the bed with you. Think of it this way: you love your pets with all your heart. And they love you. And they would be lonely and miserable if you were to die prematurely from a lack of sleep. Sound harsh? It’s not. It is a very real possibility if you are not getting 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted quality sleep nightly.
  4. We won’t win this one either, but here goes. Take the TV out of the bedroom. If that just isn’t realistic, have the discipline to turn off the TV at least an hour before sleep.
  5. Turn off your phone. It will wait until morning. Really.
  6. Keep it cool. Fresh cool air creates the best sleep environment. Add a blanket if necessary but keep the room cool.

Sleep Positioning and What We Sleep On: We previously touched on sleep positioning, and how sleeping flat combined with gravity and time can place a powerful and cumulative pressure load on our bodies, particularly our hips and shoulders. And if our mattress is too firm, or even too soft, there is additional torque pressure on our spine, forcing the muscles in our back to work overtime to reduce stress.
How can we improve the way we sleep, and the results we get while sleeping on a flat surface? Without a doubt, the best surface for balancing the pressure on your body and maintaining proper support when sleeping flat is a quality foam mattress.

Only the best foams allow your hips to lower gently to the proper depth to keep your spine straight and supported. Only a foam bed of sophisticated design and engineering then provides the underlying firmness beneath your hips to stabilize and maintain that correct sleeping alignment while relieving a large portion of that pressure that results when your hips are supporting a disproportionate amount of your body weight.

These sophisticated foam beds also reduce the pressure load on your upper torso, particularly your shoulders, by responding to your shape and weight, and allowing you to relax into the bed and the underlying firm support without the potentially painful discomfort that often is the result on an innerspring bed.

Quality foam beds reduce pressure points, and allow a more efficient circulation of your blood as you sleep. The result is deeper, more restful sleep that allows you to experience all the stages of sleep and for longer periods of time. You awake more rested, and your body has a much greater opportunity to repair and replenish itself. These beds are also self adjusting, responding to the exact shape and weight of the sleeper.

For these reasons, and more, quality foam beds are the most highly recommended beds by both doctors and peer to peer, and why these high quality foam beds enjoy satisfaction ratings 3 times that of traditional innerspring beds. The best of these beds is capable of properly supporting even very heavy individuals while maintaining the life changing comfort that many so desperately seek.

Even the Best Mattresses Can Be Made Even More Effective With An Adjustable Base

There are limits to the extent even the best designed and engineered foam mattresses can deliver pressure relief to our bodies. Again, there are stresses and pressures on our (non-flat) bodies that are a direct result of our sleeping on flat surfaces. And while incredible strides have been made in sleep technology over the past decade, especially in the development of specialty foams used in carefully engineered combinations, the quality of overall sleep, support, and comfort for even the best of these mattresses can be enhanced with an adjustable base.

Adjustable bases, especially when combined with a premium foam mattress, give you the opportunity to further customize the bed to your exact needs. Many people find incredible pressure and pain relief beyond even their highest expectations, with a premium foam mattress and an adjustable base. We have never met the individual who ever regretted having one of these beds. The only regret is not getting one at a younger age, to fight the effects of gravity and flat sleep sooner.

Adjustable bases allow a very personalized comfort. They can be hugely valuable for easing stress and pain in the hips and lower back. They can be used to ease the pressure and discomfort in the shoulder and neck area. You can adjust the bed to positions that will nearly double the efficiency of your circulation. For nearly every person, and every unique need, there is a position to give you the personal comfort and support you need to sleep well.

Some of the ways an adjustable base can be life changing include:

  • Easing of acid reflex or GERD
  • Reduction in snoring
  • Ease the symptoms of mild sleep apnea
  • Lessen pain and pressure on lower back and hips
  • Relieve shoulder and neck strain
  • Easing of knee and joint pain
  • Improved circulation
  • Easing of pressure points and skin pain from fibromyalgia and other musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Reducing pains and discomfort of pregnancy
  • Allowing new mothers to feed and co-sleep more comfortably and safely

When You Improve Your Sleep Quality, You Maximize Your Mind and Your Body’s Ability To Perform at Their Highest Levels.

It is Virtually IMPOSSIBLE to Perform at Your Highest Levels, Physically, Mentally and Emotionally Without Proper Sleep.

While we are not discounting or discouraging any of these behaviors, the fact is that you can have the purest and healthiest diet known to man, and you can operate at your personal pinnacle of fitness, but sleep loss WILL catch up with you, and it WILL have negative impact on your health and wellness.

Your body can and will make allowances for temporary and occasional lack of sleep, but if you are consistently getting less than 6 to 7 hours a night, you are simply playing Russian roulette with numerous health hazards, particularly cancers, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and mental/emotional illness.

We are Choosing to Break Down Our Health With Our Lack of Commitment to Sleep

For decades, Americans have slipped into patterns of less and less sleep. And for decades, we have seen increases in all of the health problems listed in the previous paragraph and more. The costs of these problems related to sleep loss are staggering. But far beyond the dollars are the heartbreaking and tragic losses of life or quality of life associated.

The human body is a wondrous, complex machine. And clearly, the #1 way to maintain that body is by getting quality sleep. Without sleep, it is only a matter of time before you pay the price.

Take Control of Your Sleep and Take Charge of Your Health

The great news, of course, is that you can begin today to change your sleep habits and your sleep hygiene. If you even occasionally suffer from sleep loss, we urge you to take immediate steps to assure that you are doing everything possible to get quality sleep. Do it for yourself, and do it for your loved ones. And encourage all those who are important to you to do the same.

Quality sleep is truly the foundation of life. Make sure your life’s foundation is the strongest possible.