Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Warning: Too Little Sleep May Fuel Insulin Resistance

Story at-a-glance

  • New research has shed some light onto why sleep deprivation may be so damaging to your health, as it may seriously impair the way your body responds to the hormone insulin.
  • After four nights of sleep deprivation (sleep time was only 4.5 hours per night), study participants’ insulin sensitivity was 16 percent lower, while their fat cells’ insulin sensitivity was 30 percent lower, and rivaled levels seen in those with diabetes or obesity.
  • Impaired insulin sensitivity, also known as insulin resistance, occurs when your body cannot use insulin properly, causing your blood sugar levels to rise to unhealthy levels. Insulin resistance is a precursor to type 2 diabetes as well as a risk factor in many other chronic diseases.
  • Sleep deprivation puts your body in a pre-diabetic state, which can lead to increased weight and decreased health.
TOO MUCH LIGHT IN YOUR ROOM
Even the tiniest emission of light in the room, including those given off by electronic devices, can disrupt your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin, thereby disrupting your sleep cycle.

So close your bedroom door, install black-out drapes, use a sleep mask, get rid of night-lights, and refrain from turning on any light during the night, even when getting up to go to the bathroom. If you have to use a light you can use a red flashlight, as that wavelength of light has a minimal impact on melatonin production.
EXERCISING TOO CLOSE TO BEDTIME
Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day can improve your sleep. However, don't exercise too close to bedtime (generally not within the three hours before) or it may keep you awake.
DRINKING ALCOHOL BEFORE BED
Although alcohol will make you drowsy, the effect is short-lived and you will often wake up several hours later, unable to fall back asleep. Alcohol will also keep you from entering the deeper stages of sleep, where your body does most of its healing.
YOUR BEDROOM IS TOO WARM
Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool, between 60 to 68 degrees F. Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep. When you sleep, your body's internal temperature drops to its lowest level, generally about four hours after you fall asleep.
Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body's natural temperature drop.
CAFFEINE IS KEEPING YOU AWAKE
Caffeine has a half-life of five hours, which means 25% of it will still be in your system even 10 hours later, and 12.5% 20 hours later (see the problem?). Plus, in some people caffeine is not metabolized efficiently, leaving you feeling its effects even longer after consumption. So, an afternoon cup of coffee or tea will keep some people from falling asleep at night. Be aware that some medications contain caffeine as well (for example, diet pills).
YOU'RE WATCHING THE CLOCK
The more you watch the clock when you wake up in the middle of the night, the more stressed and anxious you will become, and the more you may actually “train” yourself to start awakening at the same time each night. The solution is simple: Remove the clock from your view so you actually have to sit up or change positions to see the clock.
WATCHING TV TO HELP YOU FALL ASLEEP
The artificial glow from your TV can serve as a constant stimulus for keeping you awake and, possibly, eating, when you should really be asleep. Further, computer and TV screens (and most light bulbs) emit blue light, to which your eyes are particularly sensitive simply because it's the type of light most common outdoors during daytime hours. As a result, it can disrupt your melatonin production and further interfere with your sleep.
WORRYING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
If stress keeps you up at night, try keeping a “worry journal” next to your bedside so you can jot down your thoughts there and clear them from your head. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can also help balance your body's bioenergy system and resolve some of the emotional stresses that are contributing to your insomnia at a very deep level. The results are typically long lasting and improvement is remarkably rapid.
DO NOT EAT THREE HOURS BEFORE BED
Although you might struggle with this initially, it is ideal to avoid eating any foods three hours before bed, as this will optimize your blood sugar, insulin and leptin levels and contribute to overall good health.

SMOKING
The nicotine in cigarettes is a stimulant, which can keep you awake much as though you just drank a cup of coffee.

Dr. Mercola
Warning: Too Little Sleep May Fuel Insulin Resistance