Sleep your way to good health
Friday 19 December 2008
We all know that too many late nights can result in spots, lank hair and a bad temper but a new study suggests it can even increase your risk of diabetes and other health problems.
Us Brits clearly like to party - 40% of us survive on less than five hours shut-eye per night, despite knowing that we’re meant to clock up eight. Yes, ‘tis the season to be jolly and none of us want to turn down the festive party offers coming our way, but the results from this study reminded us of the importance of a good night’s kip.
The scientists looked at gene mutations that disrupt our body clocks and our levels of insulin.
People with a particular version of a gene affecting sleep hormones had 20% more chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to the boffins at Imperial College London. A mutation of the "sleep" gene was also linked to higher blood sugar levels.
Too many benders and not enough sleep also increases our risk of obesity and this can lead to diabetes.
But diabetes isn’t the only risk – we’ve put our science hats on and done some research into other consequences that our cosmo-guzzling, dancing-into-the-early-morning marathon sessions may result in:
* Obesity: Obesity and lack of sleep have been linked in countless studies. Less sleep leads to higher levels of a hormone which increases hunger. A study showed that people who slept for less than four hours a night were more than 70% likely to be obese.
* Heart disease: Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease.
* Feeling a bit down: We all get a bit tetchy when we’ve missed out on sufficient snoozing time, so this is hardly surprising. Studies have shown links between lack of sleep and depression.
* Feeling a bit dim: It’s not just the cocktails taking their toll, that foggy-brain feeling you get the next day is also due to not enough sleep. It has been proven that sleep deprivation visibly alters brain activity.
But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom and we aren’t suggesting you become a recluse during the festive season. If you have been burning the candle at both ends, try some of Closer's quick fixes below to perk yourself up!
* Power shower - A hot shower in the morning will blast away some of that residual sleepiness.
* Caffeine – A black coffee or cup of strong tea is an instant quick fix but keep it in moderation, too much and you will be dehydrated again.
* Exercise – Even though it’s probably the last thing you feel like doing, getting those endorphins going will result in you feeling more energised.
* Water – The more water you guzzle, the more alert you will feel and the less dehydrated your body will be. Plus it helps clear the skin and makes you look less tired.
* Disco nap – Grab a 10-15 minute snooze when you get in from work for a quick boost. Don’t sleep for too long as you’ll end up feeling jet-lagged – we’ve been there, done that!
* Eye drops – Your eyes need hydration and rest when you’re tired so pop some eye-drops in during the day and indulge in an eye-mask when you get home.
Indulge in some carbs – Foods such as pasta contain complex carbohydrates, which release sugar slowly into the bloodstream, helping to keep your strength up even when you’re cream-crackered.
* Sniff an essential oil – No, we’re not being weird, having some peppermint oil close at hand can increase your alertness with just a few sniffs! There are a bevy of other natural products on the market to keep you from dozing off so there’s no excuse for yawning during that business meeting!
Words by Sarah Jappy