Metabolic problems and illnesses are common enough that we can pretty safely classify you into one of two categories; you’ve either dealt with them yourself at some point, or you know at least one other person who has had those issues – possibly both.
If you are unlucky enough to be stuck with one of these problems, we’re willing to bet that you’ve primarily been getting food-related advice. Everyone is an evangelist for their own diet plan, and you’re probably sick of hearing about it by now.
However, as time goes by, more and more studies are proving that your sleep patterns can share equal responsibility when it comes to preventing and dealing with anything causing trouble with your metabolism. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, of course, since sleep has been linked to practically every illness and condition under the sun.
We’re here to help you figure out how your sleeping habits connect to whatever metabolic bug you’re trying to get rid of (or comfortably live with). Let’s dive right in, shall we?
The Importance of a Healthy Sleep Schedule
Since we were kids, our mothers would try their absolute hardest to make us stick to a sensible sleeping schedule. While it’s annoying to enforce, there are some very good health-related reasons for wanting to maintain such a routine.
Most importantly (in this context), our sleeping habits contribute to (or harm) our metabolic processes and help us maintain a reasonable level of blood sugar and other compounds.
This doesn’t sound good for those of us with sleeping disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, that’s for sure. A study from 2015 shows us that “bi-directional relationships exist between metabolic dysfunction and some common sleep problems, most notably for OSA and obesity and T2D.” The word “dysfunction” is certainly not something you ever want to read in your medical reports.
It’s hard for many of us to balance a healthy sleeping schedule with our hectic and stressful work schedule and social obligations. But getting insufficient rest can wreak havoc on our body and mind in ways we aren’t always aware of. For example, our hormonal balance, and the strength of our immune system are tied to the circadian rhythm, a biological clock in our brain that keeps track of what time it is.
When we consistently deviate from our sleep schedules and regularly miss out on precious resting hours, our circadian rhythm isn’t able to properly manage all those processes in our body, which can manifest in a lot of unpleasant ways.
On top of that, we end up feeling super-exhausted, and a lot of people try to break out of that groggy state by consuming food they really shouldn’t, such as unhealthy sweets or excessive coffee.
The Threat to Our Metabolism
As a lot of these studies demonstrated, participants who had a habit of deviating from their sleeping schedules and fluctuated in the number of hours spent asleep faced a much higher chance of dealing with metabolic issues.
A meta-analysis performed in Chicago concludes that proper sleep quality and duration are essential for appetite regulation, as well as the normal functioning of daily hormonal and metabolic processes.
The results are pretty clear across the board – the more irregular and unstable your sleep is, the worse off you’re going to be. Those of you with chronic sleep deprivation are way more likely to face issues like type 2 diabetes or obesity, and, as stated earlier, the reverse can also be true – people with metabolic conditions are more likely to develop sleep-related problems and disorders.
For your own sake, please remember that metabolic conditions can become incredibly risky as they develop, especially if the affected person is an older adult or if they have other established conditions and illnesses.
Contact your doctor without hesitation if you run into problems with your appetite, weight, blood sugar, etc.
Improving Your Sleeping Habits
If you’re the kind of person that takes these lessons seriously (and we certainly hope you are), then you might be interested in ways you can organize your sleep schedule in a way that keeps you healthy, happy and comfortable.
Here’s a brief list of tips you can follow to make sure that metabolic issues are as unlikely as possible, and that you’re ready and able to tackle any challenge at work or in your private life:
- Plan your whole week, and establish strict sleeping hours. It may be uncomfortable at first, but that can be said for many healthy lifestyle habits. No one likes exercising when they’re incredibly out of shape, either, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good for them.
- Remove anything from your diet that can impede your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Pay special attention to your weekly alcohol intake, the amount of sugary or greasy food you eat, etc. It can’t all be about the taste, so make sure you’re eating healthy.
- If you can afford to do so (and you probably can), turn off all your electronic devices when the time comes to get some shuteye. The blue light they radiate can cause serious harm to your circadian rhythm, and you can easily end up exhausted and groggy the following day.
- Perform relaxing activities as early as two hours before bed. Whatever works for you, really – from yoga or meditation, a steaming hot bath, even simple breathing exercises, find what you like and stick to it.
- Minimize the number of nights out of town, even during weekends or vacations. Try not to sacrifice your sleep schedule, even if your daily plan only includes having fun.
- Ask your friends how they deal with potential insomnia or similar sleep-related troubles. The world is full of healthy homebrew solutions; you just have to discover them. If you can maintain a beneficial sleeping schedule and a proper diet at the same time, your metabolism won’t be the only area where your health improves – we can promise you that!
Rebecca Smith is an editor at Countingsheep.net. She loves writing article related to healthy lifestyle. Most of her articles are about the proper sleeping position, nutrition, and good hygiene practices. When she is not busy, she dabbles in charcoal and oil paint.