You Snooze, You Lose!

Sitting in class today, I hate to admit that I drifted off to sleep several times. Doesn’t it seem that are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done AND get the appropriate amount of rest your body needs? If you’re like me and attempting to maintain your figure, not getting enough sleep means that I can’t seem to work out as hard and my body is slower to respond. Also, when I’m tired, I really just want to snack all day, even when I’m not hungry. I guess it makes sense that when I’m totally drained of energy, my body doesn’t care to function properly. Making healthy choices is a heck of a lot harder when I don’t feel well.

It turns out that due to sleep loss, the brain triggers the body to secrete a hormone, Cortisol, which triggers our appetite to make us want to eat. HA! So it’s not completely my fault that I have less self-discipline on sleepy days! (like ordering pizza and breadsticks during a two a.m. study session…) Not getting appropriate sleep also activates an enzyme that messes with our metabolisms so that fat storage increases. Research says that people who sleep fewer than five hours per night are more likely to gain weight and become obese than those who sleep seven.

Not only is a restful night’s sleep a good idea if you’re looking forward to swimsuit season, but it can also eventually lead to even worse complications than a few extra pounds. Prolonged lack of sleep can lead to issues like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. YIKES!

If you’re frequently getting sick, needing a nap to get through the day (totally me!), feeling sluggish, using the snooze button way to often, irritably and moody, and not able to think as quickly on your feet, start thinking about adjusting your schedule. People will make time for what they feel is most important.

Obviously there are unavoidable circumstances that require a late night or two…babies crying, tests to study for, stuck at the office, or maybe just finally taking time to hang out with the girlfriends. If you know you’re going to be worn out the next day, plan ahead! Maybe pack your lunch and throw some healthy snack options in to prevent that trip to the vending machine during work for a bag of Cheetos. Natural sugar from fruit, like grapes or strawberries, is great to keep you kickin’ with out a crash. Drinking lots of water will rejuvenate your system and prevent dehydration, which just makes you even more sluggish.

Insufficient sleep causes problems not just for mental health and ability to sit through classes or work all day, but it also deeply affects our physical health. Hey, increase the snoozin’ might just be your secret weapon to shedding those extra stubborn pounds. Want to make your health a priority? Make your sleep a priority! Early to bed and early to rise!

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Rosemary Willis

Rosemary Willis is a Chesapeake native, currently studying government and health sciences at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. She enjoys volunteering, singing in an a cappella group, going to the beach, watching Youtube videos, making people laugh, and traveling the world. One of Rosemary's biggest passions is helping people achieve their fitness goals, as she teaches group fitness classes and is a personal trainer for senior adults and childhood obesity programs. Website: linkedin.com/in/rosemarygwillis
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