Life is busy. And let's face it — who doesn't struggle with fitting work, play, working out, eating right, volunteering, detox-time and the gazillion other things we want to do in any given 24-hour day? But the evidence shows that if you're one of the one in three Americans who steals time from the seven to nine hours of sleep adults should be clocking, you're not doing yourself or your health any favors.
Studies have shown that cutting your sleep short for even just one night directly affects the levels of the hormones that control appetite (causing you to feel hungrier), makes you more likely to have an accident driving and on the job, leaves you less focused, makes you less able to control your emotions (and more likely to overreact emotionally in a situation), makes you more likely to catch a cold and may actually damage brain tissue.
And over time, being chronically sleep deprived (or having a disrupted sleep schedule) has been linked to a higher risk of stroke, some cancers, diabetes, heart disease, being obese and dying younger from any cause.
Not getting enough sleep or getting poor quality sleep is associated with a lot of negative outcomes, Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD, Chief of Sleep Medicine in the Department of Neurology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, told NBC News BETTER. The bottom line, she says: "If you want to enjoy healthy aging get sufficient sleep and at the right time."
For most people getting enough sleep means turning in earlier at night. From a physiological standpoint, sleep quality is better in a darker environment and the morning daylight helps keep our body clocks run on time (and thus enhances sleep quality), Zee says. Plus — most people have fairly inflexible times we need to get up for work or school, she says. "So, it's not much of a choice other than [being] chronically sleep-deprived.'
So, this week, challenge yourself to get to bed a full hour earlier than usual. Here are some tips for beating whatever it is that's getting in the way of your shuteye.