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Bryan Marcel: Sleep Well

The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Less sleep per night results in slow metabolism, low HGH levels and weight gain.

I was waiting in line at the automotive center to pick up my car. I had dropped it off to get the oil changed. After about a ten minute wait I had made it to the front of the line. The cashier greeted me by saying, “Sorry about the wait. Thanks for your patience”. I replied, “Its okay. I'm not in a hurry”. He looked me square in the eye and said “Then you’re about the only one in this country who isn't”. I laughed, but how true. We are all in a hurry. We are working more so our free time is all the more valuable. With our overloaded schedules something has to be sacrificed to make it all work. In a lot of cases what gets sacrificed is sleep.

The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

The exact amount depends on your individual needs. I require closer to 9 hours nightly to feel my best. But that isn't always possible. Long irregular work schedules, social activities, and time spent researching all require part of my day. Fortunately, I don't watch TV or the news, so I don't have to deal with that distraction. Even then, it is rare that I can go an entire week getting the right amount of sleep every night. I'm working on that. More than one third of all U.S. adults get less than 6.5 hours of sleep per night.

So what if we don't get enough sleep? Is sleep really that important? The body uses sleep to repair and rejuvenate itself. Consider this. Shorting yourself of just one hour of sleep every night decreases your attention and cognitive efficiency. Sleep also regulates body weight and metabolism. A 2004 Stanford study found that sleeping less than 8 hours per night increased BMI proportional to the amount of decreased sleep. They also found that a reduction from 8 hours of sleep to 5 resulted in a 3.6% increase in BMI. For a 150 pound person that’s a weight gain of 5.4 pounds. Just from not sleeping enough. The less you sleep the more weight you gain.

Why? Well, reduced sleep leads to a higher level of a hormone (ghrelin) that triggers appetite and makes you eat more while lowering the levels of another hormone (leptin) that tells your body it's full. Lack of sleep has been linked to not only obesity, but also depression, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. People who sleep less than 6 hours a night are 5 times more likely to have an impaired fasting glucose condition that can lead to type-2 diabetes.

There is another factor at work as well. The pituitary gland is a tiny gland, about the size of a pea, but its job is huge. Through the secretion of peptide hormones the anterior lobe regulates the physiological processes of stress, growth and reproduction. Human Growth Hormone or HGH is one of these peptide hormones. It contains 191 amino acids. In adults it influences the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fat. HGH is not secreted steadily or continuously throughout the day and night. Instead it is secreted in bursts. The onset of sleep accounts for the largest and most predictable secretion of HGH.  Up to 50% is secreted then. That’s great. HGH helps to regulate body weight and all you have to do is sleep. Too simple? Yep. There's a catch. Actually, two. First, you have to be of normal body weight. The secretion of HGH is significantly reduced in people who are overweight. But, your body—being the forgiving one that it is—will return your HGH levels to normal once your body weight returns to normal.

Ironic, isn’t it. HGH helps keep you thin, but if you gain weight it throws in the towel. Second, the release only occurs after insulin levels have fallen to a very low level. Because of this your last meal should be 2-3 hours prior to going to bed. When I learned this, I decided to apply it. At the time I was 163 pounds. I had lost most of my excess weight, but couldn't drop the last three pounds. I was eating a night time snack before bed. I decided to try not having that late night snack. One week later the scale read 160 pounds. I had been trying for months to get rid of those last three pounds and one small change in my eating habits took care of it in a week. Needless to say, no more night time snacks. It was difficult the first few weeks because I always felt hungry when I went to bed. That passed. I don't even notice anymore.

The benefits of HGH are many:
Increased calcium retention and mineralization of the bone.
Increased lean muscle mass.
Helps break down the fat stored in fat cells.
Stimulates the immune system.
Regulates serum cholesterol.

According to ads in the back of most men’s magazines HGH is also an anti-aging treatment. This all stems back to a  year-long study conducted in 1990 of 60-81 year old men who received injections of HGH. Those who received the injections had an increase in lean muscle mass, a decrease in body fatFind Article, thicker skin and slightly more dense bones. This is opposite to the normal aging process which led many to falsely conclude that HGH was an anti-aging miracle. The authors never claimed that HGH reversed the aging process. A 2007 Stanford study concluded that the gains achieved by supplementing HGH are modest at best and do not translate to a healthier or longer life. It appears that the American public has wasted 2 billion dollars on HGH supplements in a vain attempt to stay young. They could have spent that money on good quality food and a great bed with much better results.

According to a 2005 national sleep foundation study we trade work for sleep. In essence we are working longer to maintain a certain lifestyle and sacrificing our health to do so. Given the choice between my health and any material possession I will choose my health every time.

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I am a Certified Personal Trainer and an avid health researcher as an average ordinary guy. Up until a few years ago I also looked like an average ordinary guy.  I had the belly.  So, I set out to lose twenty pounds and like the majority of people I found that the most accepted advice was worthless.  I I came to the conclusion that almost everything that we have been taught about health and nutrition is pretty much wrong.  I then set out to find the correct facts. I persevered in this search and discovered much.  I then applied (to myself) what I had discovered.  Since then I have lost thirty pounds, three and a half inches from my waist and no longer need four prescription medications.  I have learned so much about health and nutrition and I want to share it with the world.

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