5 Compelling Reasons to Hit the Hay

The usual prescription for a healthy lifestyle includes a healthy diet and regular exercise. But there’s another critical element that often gets overlooked: Sleep.  Experts recommend a minimum of 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Yet most American adults report that they get 6 hours of sleep or less on most nights.

Need a little extra motivation to make getting enough sleep more of a priority? Here are five compelling reasons to turn off the television or computer and hit the hay:

Reason #1: Skimping on sleep increases stress hormones, which accelerates the aging process.

Reason #2: Under-sleeping increases insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.

Reason #3: Sleep deprivation affects hormones that regulate appetite–making you feel hungrier than you would if you were well-rested.

Reason #4: If you’re losing weight, getting more sleep enhances fat loss (as opposed to lean-tissue loss).

Reason #5: Women who sleep more than eight hours a night have a 72% lower incidence of breast cancer than those who regularly sleep fewer than six hours a night.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point!  If you are taking good care of your health in every other way, don’t cheat yourself on a good night’s sleep. If you think you don’t have time to get more sleep, just think of how much more you will be able to accomplish when your body and brain are fully rested and energized.  Stop thinking of sleep as a luxury and start thinking of it as an essential part of your prescription for a long and healthy life.  For more information on how to improve the quality of your sleep, check these tips for healthy sleep


Knutson KL, Van Cauter E. Associations between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity and diabetes. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008;1129:287-304. Link to article

Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, et al. Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Ann Intern Med. 2010 Oct 5;153(7):435-41. Link to study.

Verkasalo PK, Lillberg K, et al. Sleep duration and breast cancer: a prospective cohort study. Cancer Res. 2005 Oct 15;65(20):9595-600. Link to study

10 thoughts on “5 Compelling Reasons to Hit the Hay

  1. After looking at the second study (Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, et al. Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Ann Intern Med. 2010 Oct 5;153(7):435-41) it seems that differences in stress and thyroid hormones between people that got 5.5 hours of sleep vs. 8.5 hours wasn’t all that significant. You can even see lower or very similar stress values post-treatment. So is reason #1 overblown here, or am I missing something?

  2. Does sleep mean time in bed or actual uninterrupted sleep as you say above? I can get 8 hours in bed no problem most nights but 6.5-7 hours sleep would be doing well. This is true even after heavy training days.

    1. Gareth, unfortunately, I think it means actual uninterrupted sleep. And, I sympathize. Although I usually make sure I log the requisite hours, I often have difficulty being ASLEEP the entire time. I think the first step is to make the time. Now, I’m working on strategies to improve my sleep quality–like trying to turn the computer off earlier in the evening. Apparently, the blue light omitted by our electronic devices is particularly disruptive to circadian rhythms. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-light-affects-our-sleep/

      1. Not only the blue light or overexposure to luxes in general, but also perhaps the nature of your work? Does dealing with all aspects of what’s healthy and what’s not possibly producing too much anxiety in us health conscious folks?

        1. Seth, absolutely! It’s not just the blue light. For me, it’s also just the stimulation of working (on anything!) too close to bedtime.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.