Fall is one of my favorite seasons. I love the reminiscent childhood feelings I get of my first days of school and playing outside in the leaves (after my dad had already raked them). These memories along with the change of temperature and crispness in the air gives me a newfound energy and I find that my work resolve increases. I just suddenly want to get more done.I wish I could say the same for my sixteen year old son. Early mornings are so hard for him. His final bell at school is at 7:30am and getting him up and to school on time is nothing short of a miraculous event. His teenage inner clock just does not agree with going to bed early or getting up even earlier. For me, a full night’s sleep has always been a non – negotiable, integral part of my life. It is a must. I can say that unlike most people I know, an extra hour or two of sleep will almost always take precedence over doing extra chores around the house or any other tasks that some people might consider necessary to finish before turning in for the night. Maybe that is because I understand and really value the benefits of sleep more than some. So let me share my viewpoint as well as what I know. When it comes to fitness gains, healthy eating, maintaining a healthy weight, even weight loss, and cell regeneration, adequate sleep is just as important (if not more)as your time in the gym, expensive spa treatments, or what foods you put in your mouth. Sleep deprivation not only blurs your mental sharpness. It can slow your metabolism, make you think you are hungry when you aren’t, and interfere with any physical progress you are trying to make at the gym. But don’t just believe my word. Here is some backup from the Mayo Clinic. “Sleep isn't a luxury: Restful sleep is just as important to health as adequate nutrition and exercise. Sleep is necessary to think clearly. Studies have shown that being well rested improves the body's response to infection. Evidence suggests that brains are hard at work during sleep, possibly forming the pathways necessary for learning, making new memories and insights, and coming up with creative solutions to problems. Inadequate sleep is linked to depression and irritability as well as diabetes, weight problems and cravings for high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods.” Anne Field does a great job of explaining the different sleep cycles we go through and why each one is important. In her blog for the Harvard Business Review she writes, ”Deep sleep is crucial for physical renewal, hormonal regulation, and growth. Without deep sleep, you're more likely to get sick, feel depressed, and gain an unhealthy amount of weight.” This deep stage of sleep doesn’t happen until stage 3 and 4 (REM). If you are sleeping only 5 or 6 hours at night on a regular basis you are missing this crucial stage of sleep. I have attached the writings I refer to below as well as an article that discusses the sleep issues specifically related to teens. I think it is pretty easy to also determine how the necessity for sleep applies to children of younger ages. Their bodies and minds are rapidly growing, developing, and without adequate sleep that crucial process can be severely undermined. Sometimes the best thing we can do for our kids, when it comes to giving them that slight advantage, is simply get them to bed at a reasonable hour and safeguard their time to sleep. So check out the links below. And please offer any thoughts, comments, or observations as to how your sleep habits have affected your life. http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_body/take_care/how_much_sleep.html http://blogs.hbr.org/hmu/2009/01/why-sleep-is-so-important.html http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2010-mchi/5944.html
For more awesome fit tips check out Jeannine's blog Real [Fit] Life at the Times Union here.