#340 Get Your Sleep On!

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Never under any circumstances take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

Dave Barry

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5 Reasons to Sleep Your Way to Better Health

By Suzy Buglewicz

When your mother told you to get your beauty sleep, she may have been on to something. From babies to adults, studies show that the amount of sleep a person gets can directly affect his or her diet and overall health. While individual sleep needs vary, most adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night consistently, while school-aged children need 9 to 12 hours. According to the National Sleep Foundation, about one third of adults regularly get 6 hours or less of sleep a night. How do you know if you're getting enough sleep? A good way to tell is if you feel alert during the day and feel satisfied with the amount of sleep you are getting. And there are myriad reasons to make sure that happens. Here are five reasons to get enough sleep.

Sleeping and Awake

  1. DepressedReduces the risk of depression. Getting enough sleep is essential for functioning both mentally and physically during the day. Not getting enough can lead to dramatic mood swings, which can increase the risk of depression. Do you have a moody teenager in the house? Pediatricians recommend that teenagers get from 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night. While pulling an occasional all-nighter is not likely to make much of a long-term difference in our health, research shows that consistent sleep deprivation—getting less than 6 hours of sleep on a regular basis—can have lasting effects that can't be reversed. These effects can include high blood pressure, negative moods, and a decrease in productivity. Good sleep habits lead to better moods at work as well as better moods in our social interactions and personal relationships.

  2. Maintain An Optimal WeightHelps maintain an optimal weight. In a culture that encourages us to work and play 24/7 and fuel fatigue with caffeine to keep going, it's easy to see why so many of us are frequently tired. But did you know that getting too little sleep can cause weight gain? Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lower proteins in the body that suppress our appetites, causing people to want to eat more than they would if they had gotten enough sleep. And when we're tired from lack of sleep, we tend to overeat to refuel our bodies—to replace the energy we've lost. Unfortunately, we're more likely to reach for our favorite comfort foods or foods that give us a quick burst of energy, and those foods tend to be high in calories and carbohydrates. People who don't get enough sleep might also feel too tired to keep up a regular exercise routine, making it harder for them to maintain a healthy weight.

  3. Thinking ClearlyIncreases the ability to think clearly. A lack of sleep not only makes us drowsy and unable to concentrate, it can also lead to impaired memory function and job performance. When we're well rested, we're likely to be more alert, physically stronger, and better able to perform well at our jobs and at creative problem solving. A lack of sleep in schoolkids can lead to poor concentration and behavior problems in school. Sleep deprivation has also been shown to decrease hand-eye coordination and reaction times, especially when driving. When we do get enough sleep, we're able to think clearly and react to situations quickly.

  4. RelaxedReduces stress. It's no coincidence that as a society we've cut back on sleep over the past few decades by 1 to 2 hours a night, while studies show that more of us are reporting higher levels of stress than in past years. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 35 percent of adults report that they don't get enough sleep, with women feeling the effects of sleep deprivation more than men. Unfortunately, many adults accept their lack of sleep as a way of life and turn to caffeine to combat the fatigue they feel during the day. Aiming for at least 7 hours of sleep a night—along with exercise and a balanced diet—will minimize stress.

  5. HeartIt's good for the heart. When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are significant health benefits for people of all ages. Research has shown that consistently skimping on sleep can weaken our immune systems, making us more vulnerable to sickness and disease. Several studies have shown that a lack of sleep, or getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night regularly, can lead to an irregular heart rate as well as higher blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels, which are both risk factors for heart disease. So the next time you try to short yourself on a good night's sleep, think about all the health benefits you're missing by staying awake for that extra hour or two.

Strategies for a Better Night's Sleep

  • Maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule
  • Establish a regular bedtime routine that includes such things as reading or taking a bath
  • Sleep on a comfortable pillow and mattress
  • Avoid activities like paying bills or working (even exercise, for some people) right before bedtime
  • Maintain a regular exercise schedule

Related Articles
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Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers Monday, February 2nd, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Winning Big for Losing Weight

Committing yourself to a healthy lifestyle can mean big weight loss. Just look at December's Team Beachbody Game® winners. Dale B. and Jude V., December's $10,000 winners, lost 93 pounds and 45 pounds, respectively. Dale B. did it with the help of Tony and P90X®, and Jude V. did it with the help of Chalene and Turbo Jam®. But these two winners haven't only been rewarded with weight loss. They won big—$10,000 big—for their commitment to health and exercise. And six others were also rewarded for their inspiring weight loss stories. Check out December's Team Beachbody Game Winners!*

December's Team Beachbody Game® Winners

$10,000 Winners

Dale B.Winner Dale B. says of his Beachbody® Coach, "My coach has always been there to answer any of my questions. He'll email me on his own if I have been out of contact with him for a bit."

Dale remembers once ordering 12 tacos and an extra-large soft drink at a fast food restaurant, then driving 5 miles and ordering 12 more. Before he got home, he threw away the evidence so no one would know how much he'd eaten. He was nearly 300 pounds, uncomfortable, and embarrassed about his body. He had high blood pressure, and his body was nearly half fat! He used to watch the P90X infomercial over and over. He knew that once he started it, he would go all the way to be where he wanted to be. He's 97.3 percent there already, and he's ready to go all the way to the 2008 Team Beachbody Game Grand Prize! "I'm so close, I feel sometimes like I just want to start running; I feel that energetic now." Read more . . .

Jude V.At 180 pounds, winner Jude V. doubted that she could change, so she just ate more. But the more she weighed, the more she missed the intimacy she used to have with her husband. She was too embarrassed to let him touch her. And she felt she was letting him down. During a trip to Japan, they missed out on many of the sights because her weight made it hard for her to get around. However, Turbo Jam turned her around! It wasn't "girlie" like a lot of the videos she saw—it was punching and kicking! The hardest part for Jude was still the eating—she brought healthy food to her own birthday party and wore tight jeans to Thanksgiving dinner so she'd know her limit. It was hard—6 months later, so is her stomach! She's down to 135 pounds and 22 percent body fat. "I look like a Million Dollars now, but more importantly, I feel like a Million Dollars!" Read more . . .

$1,000 Winners

Here are December's $1,000 winners. Congratulations!

*The Team Beachbody contest and sweepstakes are currently available only to U.S. residents. Certain limitations and restrictions apply. Please review the daily sweepstakes and monthly contest rules posted on TeamBeachbody.com for details. Charges may appear on your bill as Beachbody or Team Beachbody.

Related Articles
"Winning Big for Losing Weight"
"The Magic Number for Health and Beauty"
"Why You Might Be Losing the Battle of the Bulge"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers Monday, February 2nd, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your Brain Facts IQ!

By Monica Gomez

True or False?

  1. Brain TRUE: Brain cells are the longest-living cells in your body. Brain cells can actually live an entire lifetime. The average human brain has about 100 billion neurons—brain cells. And during early development, neurons can reproduce at a rate of 250,000 per minute.

  2. FALSE: The brain uses 10 percent of the oxygen you breathe. Though your brain only accounts for 2 percent of your body mass, it uses 20 percent of all the oxygen you breathe. The amount of oxygen used by particular areas of the brain can actually change due to damage or activation of those areas.

  3. Scale FALSE: A hippopotamus brain weighs more than an adult human brain. The average hippopotamus brain weight is 582 grams. That's approximately 1.3 pounds. On average, the adult human brain weighs 1,300 to 1,400 grams. That's about 2.8 to 3.1 pounds.

  4. TRUE: The brain generates 25 watts of power while you're awake. It's true! Your brain does in fact generate 25 watts of power while you're awake—enough to illuminate a 10-watt lightbulb.

  5. Neurons TRUE: About 20 to 30 percent of the calories you consume are used by the brain. To survive, the brain requires one tenth of a calorie per minute. While you're thinking, millions of neurons, or brain cells, send messages back and forth to each other and to other parts of the body. And these neurons need fuel.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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