Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sleeping Healthy

So, I realized that I haven't done a post about being healthy lately, it used to be I had a blog entirely for that, but seeing as I no longer have more than one blog (which could change in the future?? looking for opinions on that!) I suppose that I will have to just add some up here. Today's topic is going to be about something called sleep (radical, I know!) and the different theories surrounding it.
There is a hormone made in the brain called Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that signals to the body when it is time to start preparing for sleep. In a recent study by the Journal of Applied Ergonomics, when you use a backlit digital table, such as a iPad or laptop computer, for two hours before bed your Melatonin level drops by an average of 23%. This can change depending how bright the light is and what you are doing on the tablet. Without getting into the scientific details of the study, pretty much when you use a bright screen for an extended period of time before you try to sleep, you are suppressing the hormone that tells your body that it is time to sleep, meaning you are going to be less likely to be able to sleep well. (Information originally found in FITNESS magazine and the link above) This can also be connected to excess use of cell phones before bed, which is not recommended. Using these types of screens doesn't allow your brain to settle down and start considering sleep because it is too busy doing other things; it is similar to trying to fall asleep when your roommate comes in a turns on the light after you are comfortably in bed and almost asleep: you wake up and takes a bit longer to fall back to sleep. This drop in Melatonin has also been linked to some cases of cancer, especially breast cancer in women, as well as heart attacks.
Another thing to consider about sleep is that a lack of sleep can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems. It can also lead to an increase in potential for psychological issues and emotional distress. I haven't looked at a lot of research on this, supposedly women are more prone to these, but researchers aren't positive since the majority of studies have been performed on men. Yet, a study at Duke is putting this idea out there now, so perhaps there is something to it?
A lack of sleep has other consequences which I am sure many people have experienced, I know that I am slightly ashamed to say that I have. A lack of sleep can lead to a disruption in learning and attentiveness. While this may not be a big deal for weekends or for days spent at the house, but a disruption in learning can affect schoolwork for anyone in school as well as work performance in general. If you can't stay awake during school or work, your performance will inevitably decrease which isn't something that is very helpful or positive. A disruption in attentiveness can do the same things for school and work related issues, but it can also lead to other problems such as inattentive driving, or walking, or just being generally unaware of your surroundings.
Alright, I've gone through a bunch of negative things about lack of sleep, but I do think that they are important to know! On the other hand, 1-I'm almost done with this post and 2-I'm going to add a little positive flair at the end :D
I know that there is always more stuff to do during the day, and there just isn't enough time to get all the sleep that you may need, but if you get enough sleep and are productive during the day (the hard part....believe me I know) then you will be better off than not getting enough sleep! FITNESS magazine online provides a great story called "5 Steps to a Good Night's Sleep" which I think you should all read if you get the chance because it has some very good points!
All in all, get enough sleep, my friends, and life will just seem a lot better :D Let me know what you guys think about me having a fitness section for this blog or if I should create another blog entirely for just fitness ideas like this, I promise that I would listen to all the opinions and take my decision from there! :)
Also, I started trying out Tai's interesting, more of a workout than one might think!
Happy Saturday!
Sara :)

Image from here

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