Why Sleep is Just as Important as Exercise and Diet

Daily habits and lifestyles across the globe are changing. In cities like Milton Keynes, 24/7 gyms are on the increase as more people try to fit exercise into their busy schedules. However, the modern 24/7 lifestyle that many people follow is having a detrimental effect on our health. An article by Time stated that doctors may soon be prescribing long hours of sleep as a treatment for weight gain. Experts are saying that allotting time for sleep is just as important as diet and exercise.

Getting the right amount of sleep is just as important for those who have health problems as it is for those who are fit and healthy. In an interview published by Leesa, the national spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, and advisor for Men’s Fitness Magazine, Jim White, said that when it comes down to choosing between exercise and sleep, he’d choose sleep first. That’s because when the body is tired, he claims that a person would less likely workout, and the body would produce more hunger hormones called leptin, which can lead to overeating. White adds that only well-rested individuals can attain high levels of fitness.

Apart from making people crave for more food, poor sleep changes a person’s fat cells. Shape says that when the body is sleep deprived, it suffers from “metabolic grogginess” – a term coined by the University of Chicago, who studied what happens to people who get poor sleep for four consecutive days. The study concluded that poor sleep prevents the body from producing the proper amount of insulin by 30%. When it isn’t functioning well, the body will not be able to remove fatty acids, which then end up in all the wrong places such as the heart and liver.

Over time, sleep deprivation can have serious consequences, and the rate of sleep-deprived people in the UK is alarming. In 2014 The Telegraph revealed that six in ten people in Britain were getting less than the recommended seven hours of sleep. This was a 50% increase from the previous year, with much of the blame put on the increased use of smartphones before bed.

Luckily, it is possible to make up for “sleep debt.” Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep that a person should be getting against the amount of sleep that the person actually gets. It’s a deficit that grows every time people skim some extra minutes off at night. Scientific American says that the best way to pay off sleep debt is to allow the body to wake up in the morning without an alarm clock. Paying off sleep debt won’t happen in one long sleep, and getting an extra hour or two of sleep regularly is the best way to catch up.

The bottom line is that while diet and exercise are key components to a healthy body, sleep is just as imperative. Without adequate sleep, the body will still struggle to function no matter how much you exercise or how good your diet is.