By following your natural sleep patterns and getting sufficient sleep, your health may benefit in several ways:
- You may be able to better manage your appetite.
A recent study found that women who had insufficient sleep for just one night had higher levels of ghrelin in their body the next day, a hormone that signals hunger.8 The women reported increased hunger and food cravings and also selected larger portions of food, especially at lunch, the following day. While more research is still needed, this study supports other findings that suggest getting adequate sleep may help to regulate your hormone levels, and consequently, your appetite.1
- You may be less likely to get sick.
Getting eight hours of sleep or more may help your immune system fight off the common cold. One study reported those who slept for seven hours or less were more likely to get sick, compared to those who slept more.2
- You may lower your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
Too little sleep may put your heart health at risk. Researchers are making more connections between sleep deprivation, heart disease and high blood pressure. In one study, middle-aged people who slept for five hours or less had a significantly increased risk of high blood pressure.3 In a separate study, men who slept less than five hours at night doubled their risk of having a heart attack or stroke – similar to the effects of having diabetes or being a smoker.4
- You weight loss efforts may benefit.
Getting quality sleep can help support your weight loss efforts. By eating during the first 12 hours of the day and refraining from food or caloric beverages for the remaining 12 hours (which includes sleep), you’ll work with your circadian rhythm and your body’s natural processes. Since your metabolism is most efficient during the day, fueling your body during daylight hours and avoiding late-night meals and snacks (and making sure to get adequate sleep) can help to optimize weight loss. Jenny Craig’s Rapid Results program leverages the Nobel-Prize winning science of circadian rhythms.
Even if it’s only a small change at first, making a commitment to change your sleep patterns may benefit your health.