Hello Mash Nation,
We are now entering week 5 of our community fitness initiative and I hope you all have taken the time to learn about yourselves and apply our past discussions into your daily routines. Making a lifestyle change can be difficult. Our hope is to create a support system through MASH that you feel comfortable leaning on for your path of health and wellness. This week we turn to sleep and how cellphones might be affecting your weight.
Most of us can agree that we allow instant gratification to partially rule our daily lives. Is this want affecting our weight? How many of us lay in bed mindlessly scrolling through twitter/instagram/facebook and before we know it, it’s an hour later than we intended to go to bed? Little do we know that the light we are constantly looking at for an hour straight may be the reason why we struggle to fall asleep. In a study done by Neralie Cain and Michael Gradisar in Sleep Medicine, “larger and bright light exposure from screens is considered to influence melatonin production” (Cain & Gradisar, 741). Melatonin is a hormone that our bodies naturally produce in order to maintain our sleep cycles. In other words, melatonin works as our bodies 24 hour clock, playing a critical role in when we fall asleep and when we wake up.
Whether it’s a college kid studying for a big test or a parent working overtime to make ends meet, when life needs to bend, we often eliminate the amount of sleep we get. Could this pattern be part of the reason we no longer fit into our favorite pair of jeans? According to a study done by S. Taheri, “There is increasing evidence that short sleep duration results in metabolic changes that may contribute to the development of obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes and cardiovascular disease” (Taheri, 881). Now, by no means am I suggesting that sleeping for 8 hours a night is going to prevent weight gain, but it could be playing a bigger role than most of us expect. It is recommended that adults should sleep for approximately 7 hours a night for optimal health. How many of us can truthfully say we meet that recommendation nightly?
What about kids? They’re young, they should be able to stay up all night and still be productive that next day, right? While one may be able to still do their chores and finish their homework, there could be some other side effects that are not as apparent. In the same study by Taheri, ““As it is believed that sleep is important for brain development and plasticity, this suggests that sleep loss at a young age may considerably alter the hypothalamic mechanisms that regulate appetite and energy expenditure.” As fun as pulling all-nighters may be, inconsistent sleep patterns could be a reason we struggle to control our eating habits.
The goal this week is to build awareness of (1) our daily sleep rituals routines. Are we ignoring sleep time for screen time? (2) Understand how many hours of sleep are you getting on average during the week? How are you feeling in the morning? Can you improve sleep habits to feel better about yourself?
The initiative this week is to eliminate electronics from the bedroom. Leave your phone in the kitchen, for one week. But my phone is my alarm clock? You can find an alarm clock for $8 at Target.
Who knows, maybe focusing on great sleep will be the change we have needed.