We just completed week 3 of the Dauntless Whole Life Challenge and last week we were challenged to get 7 or more hours of sleep each night.  This was a real eye-opener for many of us (no pun intended).  While many found it difficult to consistently get 7 hours, those who did were clearly enjoying the benefits of a good night’s sleep: more energy, improved mood, better choices the following day, etc, etc.

Does any of this sound like you?  (Because here’s what science tells us about lack of sleep.):

  • You’re hungry all day. It might be because you’ve been skimping on sleep. Research presented in 2010 linked sleep deficit with higher levels of the hormone ghrelin, the same one that triggers hunger.
  • Your emotions are in overdrive.  A 2007 study found that sleep-deprived brains were 60 percent more reactive to negative and disturbing images, USA Today reported.
  • You’re forgetful or unfocused.  Blame it on age, but a lack of sleep could be the true culprit. Too few hours has been linked to a whole host of cognitive problems, like difficulty focusing and paying attention, confusion, lower alertness and concentration, forgetfulness and trouble learning.
  • You’re still sick.  If you seem to catch every virus that blows through town, or can’t seem to kick that never-ending one: A 2009 study found that people who sleep fewer than seven hours each night have almost three times the risk of catching a cold than people who slept for at least eight hours.
  • You’re clumsy (-er).  Sleepy people seem to “have slower and less precise motor skills,” says the  Stanford University Center for Human Sleep Research. Reflexes are dulled, balance and depth perception can be a little wonky and since you may also have trouble focusing, reaction time can be slowed.
  •  The Mood is gone. Both men and women who don’t get adequate sleep experience a decreased sex drive. A lack of sleep can also elevate levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, which doesn’t help in the bedroom either.
  •  Your weight is stuck.  Elevated cortisol levels have also been linked to weight gain and difficulty losing weight.

Bottom line: go to bed.  Schedule for 7 hours, consistently. (You may need more. Individuals vary.) Establish a night time ritual that promotes sleep.  There is really no better way to start a day than feeling refreshed, or at the very least, not feeling tired.

(more details on references here)

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