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Why Getting Enough Sleep Helps You Lose
Weight And Can Save Your Life
By Steve Agyei
Why Getting Enough Sleep Helps You Lose Weight And Can Save Your Life

Good Morning,

Welcome back to your Monday Motivational Beyond Lifestyle Secrets Newsletter

Did you know that staying awake for over 18 hours will impair a person's performance as if they had a blood alcohol concentration of .05 and higher? This is beyond the legal limit for driving in many countries.

Understanding Sleep and Your Sleep Cycle

It's not just the number of hours you spend in bed that is important; it is the quality of those hours of sleep. If you're giving yourself plenty of time for sleep, but you're still having trouble waking up in the morning or staying alert all day, you may not be spending enough time in the different stages of sleep, especially deep sleep and REM sleep. By understanding how the sleep cycles work and the factors that can lead to those cycles being disrupted, you'll be able to start getting both the quantity and the quality of sleep you need.

Sleep architecture

People progress through a series of distinct physiological stages during sleep.Quiet sleep consists of three stages. Dreaming sleep is a separate stage that involves a different pattern of brain waves. Each stage of sleep serves an important purpose in keeping your brain and body healthy.

Scientists divide sleep into two major types: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep or dreaming sleep, and non-REM or quiet sleep. Brain waves can be recorded on an electroencephalogram (EEG), whilst you sleep and can then be used by sleep experts to identify the different stages of sleep.

Quiet sleep is important to help restore the body. During this phase, thinking and most physiological activities slow down, but movement can still occur, and a person often shifts position while sinking into deeper stages of sleep. The transition to quiet sleep is a quick one that might be like flipping a switch.

Unless something disturbs the process, you will proceed smoothly through the three stages of quiet sleep: drowsiness; light sleep; and deep sleep. That third stage is the most important. There the brain becomes less responsive to external stimuli, making waking the sleeper difficult. Deep sleep seems to be a time for your body to renew, repair itself, especially your muscles which is why it is so important when you are working out.

Someone whose deep sleep is restricted will wake feeling less refreshed. When a sleep-deprived person gets some sleep, he or she will pass quickly through the lighter sleep stages and spend a greater proportion of time in deep sleep, suggesting that deep sleep fills an essential role in optimal physical functioning.

"Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn." - Mahatma Gandhi
Then there's REM (dreaming) sleep when the body is still, but the mind is racing. REM sleep restores the mind, and is important for learning and memory. Dreaming occurs during REM sleep, which has been described as an "active brain in a paralyzed body."

Here is what happens:

Your brain races, thinking and dreaming, as your eyes dart back and forth rapidly behind closed lids. Your body temperature rises. Your blood pressure increases, and your heart rate and breathing speed up to daytime levels. The sympathetic nervous system, which creates the fight-or-flight response, is twice as active as when you're awake. Despite all this activity, your body hardly moves, except for intermittent twitches; muscles not needed for breathing or eye movements are quiet. About three to five times a night, or about every 90 minutes, a sleeper enters REM sleep. The first such episode usually lasts only for a few minutes, but REM time increases progressively over the course of the night. The final period of REM sleep may last a half-hour. Normally, REM sleep makes up about 25% of total sleep in young adults. If someone who has been deprived of REM sleep is left undisturbed for a night, he or she enters this stage earlier and spends a higher proportion of sleep time in it a phenomenon called REM rebound.

Restoring the mind

Just as slow-wave sleep restores your body, scientists believe that REM or dreaming sleep restores your mind, perhaps in part by helping clear out irrelevant information. These findings may help explain why students who stay up all night cramming for an examination generally retain less information than classmates who get some sleep.

"Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together." - Thomas Dekker
A 2001 study at Chicago Medical Institute suggested that sleep deprivation might be linked to serious diseases, such as heart disease and mental illness including psychosis and bipolar disorder. The link between sleep deprivation and psychosis was further documented in 2007 through a study at Harvard Medical School and the University of California at Berkeley. The study revealed, using MRI scans, that sleep deprivation causes the brain to become incapable of putting an emotional event into the proper perspective and incapable of making a controlled, suitable response to the event. In an article called "Sleep deprivation and the Unholy Trinity of Celebrity Death" in "Counselor Magazine" by Furek, Maxim it suggests that sleep deprivation may have been the underlying cause of the overdose deaths of celebrities Heath Ledger and Anna Nicole Smith.

Attention and working memory

Among the numerous physical consequences of sleep deprivation, deficits in attention and working memory are perhaps the most important; such lapses in mundane routines can lead to unfortunate results. Working memory is tested by such methods as choice-reaction time tasks. The lapses in attention also extend into more critical domains in which the consequences can be literally life-or-death; car crashes and industrial disasters can result from inattentiveness attributable to sleep deprivation.

While totally sleep-deprived individuals are usually aware of the degree of their impairment, lapses from chronic (lesser) sleep deprivation can build up over time so that they are equal in number and severity to the lapses occurring from total (acute) sleep deprivation. Chronically sleep-deprived people, however, continue to rate themselves considerably less impaired than totally sleep-deprived participants. Since people usually evaluate their capability on tasks like driving subjectively, their evaluations may lead them to the false conclusion that they are able to perform tasks that require constant attention when their abilities are in fact impaired.

Sleep is essential to the cognitive functions of the brain, and without it, our ability to consolidate memories, learn daily tasks, and make decisions is impaired by a large degree.

Impairment of ability

The dangers of sleep deprivation are apparent on the road; the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) reports that one in every five serious motor vehicle injuries is related to driver fatigue, with 80,000 drivers falling asleep behind the wheel every day and 250,000 accidents every year related to sleep, though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests the figure for traffic accidents may be closer to 100,000. The AASM recommends pulling off the road and taking a 15- or 20-minute nap to alleviate drowsiness.

A 2006 study has shown that while total sleep deprivation for one night caused many errors, the errors were not significant until after the second night of total sleep deprivation. However, combining alcohol with acute sleep deprivation results in a trebled rate of driving off the road when using a simulator.

The National Sleep Foundation identifies several warning signs that a driver is dangerously fatigued, including rolling down the window, turning up the radio, trouble keeping eyes open, head-nodding, drifting out of the lane, and daydreaming. Does this behavior seem familiar to you?

At particular risk are lone drivers between midnight and 6 a.m.

Weight Fluctuations

When the body is forced to stay awake, it becomes very difficult for it to process blood sugar and leptin, a protein hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism. Sleep loss is currently proposed to disturb endocrine regulation of energy homeostasis leading to weight gain and obesity.

According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours. Recent research has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. "Ghrelin stimulates hunger and leptin signals satiety to the brain and suppresses appetite," says Siebern. "Shortened sleep time is associated with decreases in leptin and elevations in ghrelin."

Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite. It also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Over time, poor sleeping habits could lead to type 2 diabetes and weight gain, due to your body's decreased ability to process sugar and suppress food cravings. Ongoing studies are considering whether adequate sleep should be a standard part of weight loss programs.

Depression and Treatment

Over time, lack of sleep and sleep disorders can contribute to the symptoms of depression. In a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night. The most common sleep disorder, insomnia, has the strongest link to depression. In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression as those without. In fact, insomnia is often one of the first symptoms of depression. Insomnia and depression feed on each other. Sleep loss often aggravates the symptoms of depression, and depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

Mental Illness

The specific causal relationships between sleep loss and effects on psychiatric disorders have been most extensively studied in patients with mood disorders. Shifts into mania in bipolar patients are often preceded by periods of insomnia, and sleep deprivation has been shown to induce a manic state in susceptible individuals.

High Blood Pressure

By getting less than six hours of sleep a night, you could be putting yourself at risk for high blood pressure. When you sleep, your heart gets a break and is able to slow down for a significant period of time. But cutting back on sleep means your heart has to work overtime without its allotted break. By constantly skipping out on all of your sleep, your body must accommodate to its new conditions and elevate your overall daily blood pressure.

Lack of Sleep May Increase Risk of Death

In the "Whitehall II Study", British researchers looked at how sleep patterns affected the mortality of more than 10,000 British civil servants over two decades. The results, published in 2007, showed that those who had cut their sleep from seven to five hours or less a night nearly doubled their risk of death from all causes. In particular, lack of sleep doubled the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Getting the recommended amount of sleep means you're doing one of the simplest actions to keep your heart healthy and decrease the risk of death.

High Blood Pressure

While you can't pay off sleep debt in a night or even a weekend, with a little effort and planning, you can get back on track.

7 Day Action Plan

1. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep every night.

2. Settle short-term sleep debt with an extra hour or two per night.

3. Keep a sleep diary.

4. Make sleep a priority.

5. Set a regular bedtime.

6. Wake up at the same time every day.

7. Nap to make up for lost sleep.

8. Create a relaxing bedtime routine.

9. Make your bedroom more sleep friendly.

10. Postpone worrying and brainstorming.

For more information on the importance of sleep to your health and fitness read my book Celebrity Training Secrets available in downloadable format from
"No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap." - Carrie Snow
No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap

Let me know how you get on at

I must go now I am off for a nap.

Breathe, Believe and Achieve

Keep on Winning, Smiling and Living The Dream

Keep on Winning, Smiling and Living The Dream


Steve Agyei,
Editor - Beyond Lifestyle Secrets
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