With 2018 coming to a close and many people wanting to start incorporating new healthy behaviors in 2019. Here’s a behavior that you can change that will help get you on the right track. Improving the quality and the duration of your sleep can go a long way towards improving your health. Research has found that those that fail to get enough sleep (or low-quality sleep) are more likely to experience health issues such as increased insulin resistance, weight gain, higher stress hormones in the evening (making it harder to get to sleep the following night), lower Growth Hormones (which are not only responsible for growth and repair, but also assist with burning fat), and will often experience cravings for sugary foods, or issues controlling appetite. Let me put this in layman’s terms. A LACK OF QUALITY SLEEP CAN MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO IMPROVE BETTER HEALTH AND FITNESS BY:

  • Reducing your ability to handle carbs, but will increase your cravings for these foods.Increase stress hormones, but decrease fat burning hormones.
  • Increase anxiety so that getting quality sleep in the future is more difficult.
  • You will not use energy/calories like you should, so losing weight will become more difficult, but gaining weight will be much easier.
  • Increase the likelihood of getting diabetes.

Most experts recommend 8 hours sleep, but going to bed at 11 and waking up at 7 usually isn’t enough for most people. Researchers also examined the quality of sleep and had determined that the ability to achieve deep sleep played a role in reducing heart rate as well as blood pressure. In addition to this, many people believe that “I get 4, 5… hours of sleep, that enough for me,” so researchers looked at how 4, 8 and 12 hours of sleep affected health. They found that those sleeping 5 hours or less/night were much more likely to get diabetes, had increased anxiety, have weight gain/obesity… all of those things mentioned in the previous paragraph, as well as increased inflammation, and blood pressure.

While there is no such thing as a magic bullet than take care of all your health issues, when you want to change things in your life to improve your health or become more fit, you’ll ideally want to change the behaviors that will give you the most “bang for your buck.” Improving sleep quality and duration should be at the top of your list. And even though most people believe they have get enough sleep, they after they initially go to bed, they’ll either toss and turn, get up to go to the restroom… all of which interfere with the amount of time that you have to achieve deep sleep.

If you’re interested in finding out your sleep quality, you can get an app for your smartphone called Sleep Cycle. You can place your phone on your nightstand next to you when you go to bed. The app activates your phone’s microphone which detects movement, changes in breathing… and gives you the amount of quality sleep that you’ve achieved that night. I also like it because it can turn off the notifications on your phone until the time you’re supposed to wake up, and it even has a gentle alarm clock, that gradually gets a little louder until you wake up.

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