Friday, March 6, 2015

The importance of sleep

We are realizing more and more how important sleep is for our physical and mental health.  A lack of sleep is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, probably because while you sleep, your body releases the hormones that helps you to process fat stores.  As a result, too little sleep leads to weight gain due to an imbalance of those fat-processing hormones, and of course, being overweight or obese puts you at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes. In addition, chronic sleep loss leads to higher levels of insulin, which in turn produces an insensitivity to insulin and an increase in appetite.

So while sleep can't lower your risk of type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune disease and unrelated to weight or lifestyle), it can significantly decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  This is important to remember right now, when everyone is fretting over the upcoming switch to Daylight Savings Time.

As this article points out, Daylight Savings Time shouldn't be a huge adjustment for a healthy adult who is getting enough sleep.  (Although as someone else pointed out, kids do have a genuinely difficult time adjusting, but that's because they're not yet accustomed to running their lives by a clock -- and chances are, the time change will throw off your pets, because they judge time by daylight and have no idea that clocks even exist.)  If you're getting enough sleep -- which, for most adults, is seven to nine hours a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation's new recommendations -- a minor time change of an hour should be just a blip on your radar.  Most adults should be able to adjust in just a day or two.

The first morning I have to get up early on the new time is usually a little tough for me, but not exceedingly so.  I do tend to get enough sleep most of the time, and I don't have a set schedule where I've been getting up at the same time for years and years, which probably also helps.  Lately I've been a bit sleep deprived, though, so I guess we'll find out how tough it is for me this year.

In related news, though, there is a movement in Colorado to stop the time from changing twice a year.  We're trying to keep our time on Daylight Savings all year around, which would mean sticking that extra hour of daylight onto the end of the day instead of the beginning in the winter.  If you're a Colorado resident and you're interested in signing the petition to get this measure on the ballot, visit the Facebook page to find out where volunteers will be collecting signatures.

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