Busy parents usually have a long list of things to do, and sleeping is rarely one of them. While it's tough to carve out the time, you may want to seriously consider moving sleep to the top of your priority list.
Most people generally shoot for six to seven hours of sleep a night and many function on much less! If you fall into this camp, you are officially sleep deprived.
"Sleep deprivation is defined as anything less than 8.5 hours of sleep each night," says Dr Shawn M Talbott, a nutritional biochemist, physiologist and author. If you fall under the 8.5 hour threshold, you could be exposing your body to unnecessary stress that can negatively impact your physical and emotional health.
While scrimping on sleep every once in a while probably won't hurt, regular sleep deprivation can quickly spiral into an unhealthy habit.
Dr Talbott explains that "the body perceives the sleep loss as a 'stress,' which increases levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, which interferes with insulin function, which means blood sugar regulation is compromised, which leads to fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which lead to changes in appetite (most notable is a craving for sweets and junk food), which leads to abdominal weight gain (specifically abdominal fat, not in other areas of the body)."
Whew! The bottom line is, without enough sleep, you could be at risk for a variety of problems, including obesity and diabetes.
Although insufficient sleep causes stress, your body will learn to cope -- or at least convince you that it's coping. Don't be fooled.
"Without enough sleep, you are physically run-down, your immune system is compromised, you do not want to do anything, you get depressed and feel out of sorts," says Dr. Steve Rosenberg, a psychotherapist based in Pennsylvania. "This stress makes you suffer with a poor respiratory function and heart rate," Good habits are just as hard to break as bad habits.
So, setting yourself up for success means finding a steady sleep rhythm. Dr. Rosenberg recommends the following tips for establishing a healthy sleep habit:
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