Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Resolve to Get More Sleep in 2015

Resolve to Get More Sleep in 2015

Recruitment Specialist

Getting back into the swing of things after a long holiday vacation can be difficult and it can be even more challenging when trying to keep up your New Year's Resolution. Maybe you've started hitting the gym to lose a few pounds or thrown your last pack of cigarettes in the trash in favor of a more positive stress relief tool. Maybe you've decided to learn a new language or say "goodbye" to high-fructose corn syrup from your diet for good. Now the question is: how are you going to stick to these plans when you've changed your ways, but your environment hasn't? One answer could be to add another resolution to your list: get more sleep.

Sleep is a key factor in improving various areas of health. It keeps your immune system fighting and can even help shorten recovery time if you do get sick. More importantly, sleep plays a role in long-term wellness on both a mental and physical scale. Your nightly slumber helps to improve memory performance, particularly in relation to hippocampus-dependent forms of memory. This is important as the hippocampus is the part of the brain that converts short-term memories into long-term knowledge through a process called consolidation. During sleep consolidation, your brain basically goes through learned information and reinforces it, allowing you to better recall it at a later date. A study published by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America also attributes the ability to foster remote associates or, as people without a psychology degree call it, creativity, to good old sleep.

Sleep deprivation is also proven to have an impact on weight. The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study found that less sleep resulted in increased levels of ghrelin, a hormone that mimics fasting and makes you crave those high-calorie foods, and decreased levels of leptin, a hormone that tells your body when it is full.  The result? Higher BMIs. At the same time, people who have had a good night's rest burn approximately 20 percent more calories after a meal than their sleep-deprived counterparts. Sleep is also the key factor in maintaining your energy levels throughout the day, which keeps you motivated to take that trip to the gym or spend a few extra minutes cooking a healthy dinner, rather than hitting a quick drive-through window.

Getting the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night can be difficult, especially with a hectic schedule. Most physicians will recommend adding a kind of "sleep ritual" to your nightly routine to help maximize the quality of the sleep you are able to achieve. This can range from simply changing the temperature in your home close to bedtime to a quick bit of pre-siesta yoga; the goal is to keep up habits that tell your body when it is time to relax and get ready for a doze.

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