Sleep Habits for a Younger You

Watching the late show every night? Putting TV ahead of your sleep may be affecting more than just your energy and productivity the next day.
( [email protected] ) Sep 19, 2004 01:21 PM EDT

Your current sleep habits may unknowingly be causing you to age at an accelerated rate – metabolically and physically. Even worse, many of us who choose to stay up and trade sleep for other activities eventually adapt and feel less fatigued. Regularly following these sleep patterns puts you in a metabolic state that is commonly found in seniors.

Sleep Affects Metabolism

Recent studies have confirmed that individuals who are sleep deprived experience a decrease in the ability to properly metabolize carbohydrates and may be putting themselves at risk for type 2 diabetes, weight gain and heart disease.

Sleep deprivation is a physical stress on the body, just like skipping a meal. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been found in sleep deprived individuals—levels not unlike those commonly found in older individuals. Thyroid hormone levels important for healthy metabolism were lower and insulin levels were found to be elevated. This combination sets the stage for insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes and weight gain, especially around the abdomen.

Luckily, these unfavorable hormonal changes can be restored after a sleep recovery period. Use these sleep tips to ensure you stay in a healthy hormonal balance and age gracefully.

1. Go to bed by 10 pm: Earlier is better–especially in the winter months. This will require you to make sleep a priority.

2. Sleep in complete darkness: This is essential for the production of melatonin, a hormone important for healthy sleep patterns, for antioxidant protection and for decreasing the negative effects of the stress hormone, cortisol.

3. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day: Establishing a cycle is much better for your body and for the pattern of hormone release during sleep.

4. Get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

5. Use the Truestar Sleep Tips if you have difficulty falling or staying asleep. Use these tips for two weeks. If your sleep does not improve, then consider using one of our natural sleep aids or meditation CDs.