by Keith Paine

Especially living in New York City, as I do!  Culturally, we put more value on what we do, and much less value on the sleep we get.  Well, have you considered the negative toll that sleep loss may put on your body and mind?  Everyone’s individual sleep needs vary.  In general, most healthy adults are built for 16 hours of wakefulness and need an average of eight hours of sleep.  Recent surveys have found that more people in the U.S. are sleeping less than six hours a night, and that sleep difficulties visit 75% of us at least a few nights per week.  Chronic sleep loss will contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in your immune system’s power.  And if you are an exerciser, sleep is a key part of your program— recovery.  Sleep gives your muscles time to repair and rebuild after each sweat session.

Here are six really good reasons to catch those Zs :

1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation.

2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain, by affecting the way our bodies process carbohydrates and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.

3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and critical mistakes such as medical errors and road accidents.

4. Mood: No one likes a grump at work! Also, sleep loss can also leave you too tired to do the things you really like to do (go for the run, go out with friends, etc), which will affect your mood even further.

5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels and irregular heartbeats.

6. Disease Prevention: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s “killer“ cells. Conversely, catching up with sleep helps all immune function, so your body will fight disease better.

Remember, the proper amount of sleep each night is necessary to face the world with your best foot forward.  Sleep will help you on the road to good fitness, good eating and good health!