Monday, February 2, 2009

Change One Thing Challenge: Bed Time

Not only is sleep important for keeping you on top of your mental game, but catching those zzz's also plays a role in managing your health and your waistline. Now we're going to put it to the test.

After a January full of resolution-themed ideas, new events, pudge busters and weather gripes (sorry about all of those but we're really trying to shake off winter), Fit-Ink wants to introduce a new ounce of fun to the mix in February. Meet the Change One Thing Challenge, coming at you weekly, where we examine health studies and food claims and report back to see if they made a difference in our every day functionality--and if we could stick to them.

The first dare: sleep and upping our nightly count to squeeze in a full eight hours. Why eight? Call it the magic number when it comes to sleep studies or call it the number of recommended hours we should be getting to help keep weight down, health up, plus it's supposed to contribute to those smart genes and coordination. And more sleep is also supposed to aid in curbing those hunger pangs at midnight that inevitably lead to weight gain and guilt (if only I didn't eat insert-bad-snack-here while plugging away at the computer).

A recent study from the University of Chicago found that those who slept 5.5 hours nightly consumed more calories, typically carbs at night, than those who slept 8.5 hours. And it was reported a few years ago that those sleeping five to six hours nightly produced lower levels of the hormone leptin, which is supposed to help weight management, whereas those sleeping longer tend to eat less and burn more. Another study out of Chicago learned that sleep deprivation can lead to production of the hormone ghrelin, which can cause cravings.

So our goals this week are to get more sleep and see if it makes a difference in our day, either through a halt on the cravings, a slow down on snacks or more mental fortitude during the work day. But I better get to bed if I want to make day one a success. Photo grabbed from careenin at Flickr. Posted by Kate

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