Thursday, June 27, 2019

Health with Tess: Sweet slumber and circadian rhythms part 2

June 12, 2019 by Tess Syrowik, contributing writer

Back in the dark ages of last semester, when everything was due and tensions were high, I touched on how sleep helps us concentrate and be more productive, and how poor sleep can impact our immune systems and mental health. Many of these are short-term benefits that compound to help manage long-term health, but they are by no means the only reasons to make sure you are getting enough rest. 

Health with Tess is a column about health issues; it appears in every issue of Nexus.

I can’t be the only person who eats like a garbage monster when sleep-deprived, and now I know why: the hormones that make me feel sleepy also make me feel hungry. When a person doesn’t get enough sleep, more hormones that cue feelings of tiredness enter their bloodstream, also bringing out feelings of hunger. Not sleeping enough helps us make the bad decision of fries and chocolate at the same time. Avoiding the garbage-monster hunger state also assists in maintaining positive relationships because it decreases incidences of “hanger,” the common state of irrational irritation or anger that emerges when a person is in a hungry state. And multiple studies have found that individuals who are sleep-deprived (usually measuring at less than six hours of sleep per night) are more likely to struggle with obesity and the plethora of health issues that living at an unhealthy weight can cause.  

Sleep deprivation can also put people at a higher risk for cardiovascular health issues, including heart disease, heart attack, an irregular heartbeat, and high blood pressure. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, about 1 in 12 Canadian adults age 20 and over (that’s 2.4 million people) lives with diagnosed heart disease. If sleep deprivation is increasing these problems, getting enough sleep can help protect people from being on the dangerous side of these statistics.

If you are having a hard time getting to sleep, are waking up frequently, or are not feeling rested from a night’s sleep, it may be worthwhile to speak with a professional about sleep strategies. More studies are coming out that speak to the benefits of getting enough quality sleep. Sleep impacts so many facets of health, so taking care of those sweet circadian rhythms is more than worth it.

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