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Rest up, it's better for your health

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Rest up, it's better for your health
Posted Nov. 9, 2007

Andres Rivera
Web Editor

Take out your warm and comfy blanket, close the blinds, set the books aside for a couple of minutes and TiVo your favorite show; it’s naptime.

The chances that I can do this seems very unlikely considering my workload matches that of any other college student struggling to get the most out of school. Sparing a couple of seconds a day for a nap, or a better night’s sleep, could improve your health in more ways than one.

Recently researchers at the University of Michigan evaluated the correlation between the amount of sleep third graders had each night to their chances of being obese by sixth grade.

Dr. Julie Lumeng, who led the research, concluded that the students who had less sleep were more likely to become overweight by sixth grade regardless of what their weight was during third grade.

These findings, although geared at elementary students, can be applied to everyone who decides that sleep isn’t a top priority. Night owls beware.

The scientific answer to how sleep is connected to weight gain is that lack of sleep fluctuates the production of two hormones that control a person’s appetite.

That means the less you sleep, the more you will want to eat.

In adults, just as in children, lack of sleep yields the production of more ghrelin, a hormone that promotes hunger, and decreases the production of leptin, a hormone that gives you the “I’m full” signal to your brain.

So ladies and gentlemen who want to stay fit, keep the waist at a comfortable circumference and feel a little better, getting more sleep will definitely help. It should be noted that sleep alone won’t keep you from being overweight. A combination of a healthy diet, exercise and sleep should do it.

Now putting that plan into action is easier said than done.

Making time for your body to recover from the day’s turmoil of working on projects, papers, reading, studying, club activities, athletics, work, etc., may be hard to do but it is a necessity.

I know that my current schedule doesn’t leave time for naps in between classes or the luxury of sleeping a full eight or nine hours at night. I’m lucky if I get five.

Getting more sleep isn’t all about staying away from obesity, although it’s a pleasant result, sleep revitalizes the mind in ways that Red Bull never will. It eases stress and sometimes the best ideas or problem solving come during or right after a good night’s sleep.

So how do we make time for more sleep?

What it all comes down to is time management and planning. This may sound robotic but scheduling time to rest whether it be a short nap in the afternoon or allowing for an extra hour of sleep each night could help.

Organizing and prioritizing projects, allotting specific time slots for working on the projects and moving on when time is up will give you the ability to get more work done in the same amount of time. When that happens there should be more time for rest, at least that’s the theory.

So for the next month or so, I shall go on a quest for sleep. I will create a schedule, and stick to it, all the while risking the chance of losing my sense of humanity.

Well, at least I’ll be well rested.

Andres Rivera, a senior journalism major, is Web editor of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at arivera3@ulv.edu.