Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rest Day: Sleep!

Last night, I got home later than usual, which threw off my entire nighttime routine. I stayed up way past my usual bedtime, and didn't get my full night's rest before popping up this morning. And I'm feeling it today. I'm dragging.

Just a few years ago, I prided myself on being able to get by with just 5 or 6 hours of sleep. After the kids were in bed and M left for another overnight shift at the hospital, I'd either catch up on work and/or unwind in front of the TV for a few hours before staggering to bed at 1 or 2 a.m.

Not anymore.

Sleep deprivation ain't worth it. You end up feeling and looking like death warmed-over. And your workouts suck because you're too tired to give it your all. As Robb Wolf puts it:
Sleep deprivation mimics many elements of the aging process. One could make the argument that how you feel when you are sleep deprived is likely how you will feel if you are both diabetic and old (sleep deprivation dramatically impacts insulin sensitivity). Improved sleep time and quality will help you: Lean out, avoid depression, autoimmunity, heart disease... It might even help you be a better athlete.
Most people recognize that diet and exercise are critical to maintaining health and wellness. But too many folks equate sleep with laziness, when in fact, getting enough good quality shut-eye is just as important. Listen to Stephan Guyenet:
Besides making us miserable, lack of sleep appears to predispose to obesity and diabetes, and probably sets us up for the Big Sleep down the line. I can't say I'm surprised, given how awful I feel after even one night of six hour sleep. I feel best after 9 hours, and I probably average about 8.5. Does it cut into my free time? Sure. But it's worth it to me, because it allows me to enjoy my day much more.
So: Go to bed early tonight. Turn off your alarm clock. (Worried you won't wake up in time for your morning meeting? THEN GO TO BED EARLIER.) Make sure you keep your room pitch-black -- no nightlights, no glowing LCD displays on your cell phone, clock, DVD player. The light's bad for you. And makes you fat. Really. In fact, even a single night of sleep deprivation can increase your insulin resistance, which means your low-carb diet ain't fer shit.

And don't let the bedbugs bite.