Maybe a lot more than you know
Sleep, and the lack thereof, has been in the news this week. In two separate news stories, the lack of sleep was implicated as a possible cause of unhealthy eating & obesity as well as elevating the risk of stroke. From a Science Daily article (See link below):
Habitually sleeping less than six hours a night significantly increases the risk of stroke symptoms among middle-age to older adults who are of normal weight and at low risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a study of 5,666 people followed for up to three years.
Everyone knows that sleep plays a huge role in the way we feel. It also plays a key role in our health. In creating our 4Leaf Program, we wanted to keep things as simple as possible. Recognizing that optimal health was not only a function of food choices, we came up with what I call the “4 Leaves of Health: Food, Exercise, Mental Attitude, and Rest (Sleep). Without any one of these four leaves, I do not believe that one can achieve “vibrant health.
So how much sleep do we need? From the website of the National Sleep Foundation:
Sleep experts recommend a range of seven to nine hours of sleep for the average adult. While sleep patterns change as we age, the amount of sleep we need generally does not. Older people may wake more frequently through the night and may actually get less nighttime sleep, but their sleep need is no less than younger adults. Because they may sleep less during the night, older people tend to sleep more during the day. Naps planned as part of a regular daily routine can be useful in promoting wakefulness after the person awakens.
Back to the “4 Leaves of Health.” I also believe that each of them affects the other to a great degree:
- Lack of sleep can result in unhealthy food choices, lessen your will to exercise and contribute to an overall less-positive mental attitude.
- An unhealthy, toxic diet can affect affect the quality of our sleep, our physical performance and our overall mental attitude.
- Lack of exercise also affects our digestive system, our mental attitude and our ability to routinely get a good night’s sleep.
- Negative thinking, as we all know, can affect all of the above. Perhaps the most important leaf of all, our overall mental attitude provides the drive and the motivation to achieve vibrant health and enjoy a full and happy life.
As for the unhealthy food choices, a Science Daily article (link below) reported on two recent studies that were presented at the SLEEP Medicine Conference last week.
It seems that a loss of sleep can lead to dysfunction in appetite signaling in specific areas of the frontal lobe, which are responsible for making smart and informed decisions regarding food selection. This further adds to the ongoing link between sleep deprivation and obesity, suggesting that lack of sleep prevents people from making smart and healthy food choices.
The Bottom Line. Our 4Leaf philosophy on health can be summed up in one phrase that we all heard from our mothers when we were kids. Eat your veggies, get plenty of sleep and go outside and play. That pretty much covers all that we need. Here are the source articles for today’s blog.
- Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Unhealthy Food Choices – Forbes.
- Myths and Facts about Sleep from the National Sleep Foundation
- Science Daily article: Top risk of stroke: Getting under 6 hours of sleep.
- One of my earlier posts: Sleep Apnea Tied to Increased Cancer Risk?
In addition to my standard “healthy eating” kit shown below, there are two other books that are relevant to today’s post: one about being happy and the other about exercise and athletic performance.
- “What Happy People Know” by Dr. Dan Baker on Amazon
- “Thrive,” by Brendan Brazier on Amazon (a vegan athlete who “thrives” on plants)
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The ”big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation