The Importance of Getting Enough Sleep – Part 2

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt?

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment.

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at or at your favorite library or bookstore.

The Importance of Getting Enough Sleep – Part 2
To give you some idea of just how detrimental a lack of sleep can be to your biochemical balance, look at what happens to an average fifty-year-old who sleeps just six hours per night. That middle-aged person has nighttime cortisol levels more than twelve times higher than the average thirty-year-old who sleeps eight hours per night!

Not only will an inadequate quality or quantity of sleep upset biochemical balance, but it will also limit your ability to fall asleep the next night (because your cortisol is still too high) and the amount of time that your mind spends in the most restful stages of deep sleep.

A vicious cycle gets set into motion when you experience poor sleep, an overactive stress response, and subtle changes in biochemical balance that lead you down the path toward burnout and chronic diseases.
Numerous research studies verify the damage caused by sleep deprivation, including the following:

* A Yale University study of 1,709 men found that those who regularly got less than six hours of shut-eye doubled their risk of weight gain and diabetes because of elevated cortisol and its interference with insulin metabolism and blood-sugar control (leading to glycation).

* University of Virginia researchers have reported that jet lag—and the elevated cortisol that comes from sleep deprivation and altered body-clock cycles—is not just bad for health but can lead to higher death rates as well (at least in older mice). The increased death rates are thought to be due to a suppression of immune-system function by disrupted biochemical balance. The fact that these sleep-deprived mice die sooner probably comes as no surprise to exhausted, globe-trotting business executives or stretched-to-the-limit soccer moms.

* Researchers at Brown University Medical School have also shown that sleep quality (how restful your sleep is), but not necessarily sleep quantity (how many hours of sleep you get), is closely related to biochemical balance and your state of vigor. As you might imagine, subjects with lower levels of sleep quality (including children and teenagers) also had the most disrupted biochemical balance and overall stress, as well as the lowest vigor scores.

* In Stockholm, Sweden, researchers at the National Institute for Psychosocial Medicine conducted a series of experiments related to those at Brown and showed that total sleep time was significantly decreased (leading to problems with biochemical balance) in workers during their most stressful workweeks. The stress at work also led to daytime sleepiness and nighttime restlessness—so even though the workers were tired, they were still too stressed and metabolically imbalanced to sleep.

Even if you understand the importance of sleep as proven in these studies, you may feel lucky to get just six or seven hours of shut-eye. I know I do—and yet I also realize this is still not enough sleep to maintain my own biochemical balance within healthy parameters. On top of that, I also know that some of the best ways to ensure a restful night of sleep are to avoid caffeine after noon (yet I sit here writing this with an afternoon cup of java next to the laptop), leave work at the office (yet I’m writing this from my home office), and skip the late-night TV (yet my DVR lets me watch primetime shows after my wife and I put the kids to bed)—so that’s three strikes for me.

I tell you all this “personal information” in the hope that you will see that maintaining your biochemical balance—or improving your vigor—is not an “all-or-nothing” proposition. No one does this perfectly, myself included.

Sometimes you have lots of stress, and sometimes you have less. Sometimes you get adequate sleep, but for many of you, that doesn’t happen often enough. On certain days you’ll be able to exercise and eat right—and on other days you’ll hit the drive-through and feel like you’re working nonstop. The point here is not to strive to be “perfect” in your efforts to maintain biochemical balance. Rather, the best approach is to apply the principles outlined in this book as consistently as possible to ensure that you can do as much as possible to keep your vigor high as often as possible.

About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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