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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Get your Z's

I took a vacation last week. It was nice to be off of work, but it is so hard to get back to work after your schedule is so screwed up. In fact, I found myself doing my own special "sleep study" over the past several days. Let me share my findings.

The healthcare industy is constantly trying to reminds us why we need to get betwen 6-8 hours of sleep each night. There is always a lot of debate about how many hours is truly the most beneficial. Many studies have been done about sleep but answers are still not perfectly clear about how much is just enough. There have been several studies that show that study participants who slept between 6.5-7.5 hours lived longer than participants who slept less than 6.5 or more than 8.

Quality of sleep is also very important. During my vacation, I got around 6-8 hours each night. However, my schedule was off and so was my sleep. I didn't sleep well at all Sunday night and found myself exhausted on Monday back at work. The days that I did not get enough sleep, I was hungrier than usual and I was unable to make good decisions about what to eat. I lacked motivation, didn't exercise and didn't even drink enough liquid. I was in a bad mood and actually felt depressed. Monday night I went straight home and hit the couch. I took a little nap and was able to get up and do a few chores. I went straight to bed around 9:30 and woke up Tuesday almost as good as new. I was not as hungry and I was able to exercise. I felt 95% better. I can't say 100% because I was still a little tired from the previous nights without proper sleep and my body was a wreck from the junk I ingested while feeling so bad.

I really paid attention to how my body responded to lack of sleep and it does not like it. This morning I awoke from a great nights sleep and I can honestly say that I now feel 100% better. I don't wake up feeling incredible after 8 hours of sleep. I feel incredible after about 6.5-7. Any more than this and I often feel groggy. Studies are still not clear as to whether getting a perfect 8 hours is best for you so get what you feel your body truly requires. This means listening to your body better. Write about your sleep habits in a journal if you must, but pay more attention. This is especially important if you are attempting to lose weight or just plain feel better! Whatever you do, make sure you are getting your Z's! They are way more important than you realize. Happy snoozing!

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