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Two More Reasons to Perfect Your Habits of Healthy Sleep

 

Sleep is a foundational Habit of Health. When your sleep suffers, the ripple of consequences cascades through the rest of your life—from your performance at work to your ability to control your food portions. For many of us, getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night could give us the edge we need to find new success in our other Habits of Health.

Because sleep is so critical, I’ve written about it a lot. I’ve talked about how caffeine consumption affects your sleep habits, how a lack of sleep can hinder your immune system, and how our love for screens can impact our bedtimes. Medical research, however, is ongoing, and science continues to find more reasons that we should make sleep a priority in our lives.

In the last few weeks, two new pieces of research were released that you should know about. Here’s what they found:

  • Healthy sleep schedules can help prevent obesity, even in preschool children. Researchers found that children who stayed up past 8pm were more susceptible to obesity later in life. The study started with children ages four and five and checked in with them when they were 15. Only 10 percent of the healthy sleep schedule children were obese while 16 and 23 percent of the two late bedtime groups were obese.
  • Artificial light could be more damaging to our sleep than we originally thought. The Habits of Health have talked about the importance of maintaining your circadian rhythm from the beginning, which is why we talk about a “digital sunset” (turn off your electronics before bed!) and suggest blacking out your room or wearing a sleep mask. New research on mice suggests that we can potentially correct the negative effects of too much light by adjusting our environments around us to simulate a more natural light cycle.

For long time Habits of Health practitioners, these findings will sound familiar. While the research itself is new, the findings reinforce best practices that we’ve known for years. Sleep has incredible restorative power and is an underlying factor in nearly every major process in our bodies, from how we retain knowledge to how we regulate our appetites to how we cope with stress.

Given its importance, we should take just as much care in mastering the Habits of Healthy sleep as we do with our nutrition and exercise choices. Your health depends on it!

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