A study in the journal Science Translational Medicine found that not getting enough sleep, or getting poor-quality sleep, can make you fat and eventually lead to diabetes.
Unlike past epidemiological studies, this one looked at people sequestered in a lab over a six-week period. Doing this allowed researchers to mimic third-shift work, jet lag, and other conditions that prevent a quality, full night’s sleep.
In other words, by keeping these 21 brave participants tightly confined, researchers could control how many hours of sleep they got, when they slept, as well as other factors like diet and exercise. It wasn’t like they could slip off for a nap or anything.
At the beginning of this six-week study, researchers allowed participants about 10 hours of sleep every night.
Nice, right? Sign me up!
But not so fast. Researchers eventually cut back participants’ sleep to less than six hours over a 24-hour period.
Even more challenging, they rotated these six hours over different times of day and night to disrupt circadian rhythm, much like a hospital worker or someone flying to a different time zone might get inconsistent sleep.
After suffering weeks of aberrant sleep patterns, researchers concluded the study by allowing participants plenty of recovery sleep.
Regardless, these sleep-deprived people showed higher blood sugar levels, which can lead to obesity and diabetes. Even though they recovered, those weeks of not getting quality, consistent rest took its course.
“The evidence is clear that getting enough sleep is important for health,” said lead author Dr. Orfeu M. Buxton, “and that sleep should be at night for best effect.”
I know how easy it is to say this and yet how few people get seven to nine hours of high-quality, consistent sleep every night.
More likely, you’re staying up late to meet deadlines, awakening at 3 a.m. with the next day’s business on your mind, or tossing for hours and hopelessly glancing at your alarm clock.
To change those patterns, you need to prepare for sleep. About an hour before bed, shut down electronics and other stimulation, and unwind with a cup of tea and maybe a hot bath.
Sleep is actually one of the seven key principles for living longer and living better covered in my DVD 7 Pillars of Longevity »
Developing better sleeping patterns might require a natural sleep aid. One of my favorites is melatonin, a hormone your brain’s pineal gland produces to regulate sleep, circadian rhythm, and your body’s internal clock.
Especially as you get older, your brain makes less melatonin. If you occasionally suffer from jet lag, have aberrant sleeping patterns, or just can’t get a good night’s rest, melatonin might be your ticket.
A meta-analysis in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found melatonin safe and remarkably effective to reduce or eliminate jet lag.
And a study in the Journal of Sleep Research found that melatonin could help night-shift workers sleep better during the day.
My favorite melatonin supplement comes from Designs for Health.
This high-quality melatonin has vitamin B6 to aid the conversion process, contains no cheap fillers or binders to inhibit efficacy, and comes from one of the best, most ethical supplement companies in the world.
Best of all I think it is only $11 for a 60 day supply.
Nothing is more important than a good night’s sleep, so take the very best melatonin to help you get there.