SNOOZING YOUR WAY TO BETTER HEALTH
Did you know that muscles are built while you’re asleep at night? That’s right. As you drift off to la la land your body is working hard to repair microscopic tears in the individual muscle cells (sarcomeres). If you are training to overload, you incur these microscopic tears and this is where muscle growth becomes possible. During sleep the body releases human growth hormone and amino acids necessary to repair the sarcomeres and build more muscle cells, aka making gains.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. In regards to the demands of modern life it can be next to impossible to set aside this much time for sleep each night.
However, making sleep a priority will benefit your health in a multitude of ways. Rebuilding muscle isn’t the only thing your body is during each night. Healthy sleep is also associated with improved mental and physical health and better performance at work and school.
While missing sleep can lead to deleterious health affects that individually and cumulatively amount to more than a groggy Monday morning, short-term effects include, lack of alertness, impaired memory, relationship stress and a greater likelihood for auto accidents, possible long-term effects of sleep deprivation can be much more serious. These include high blood pressure, elevated cortisol levels, heart failure, stroke, depression, diabetes and obesity.
Developing good sleep habits won’t happen overnight though. If you are looking to work towards healthy sleep there are a couple of general recommendations that may apply
- Stick to the same sleep schedule every night
- Turn off electronics and other distractions to prepare your body for rest
- Get regular exercise
- Avoid caffeine five hours prior to sleep
- Avoid alcohol before bed
- Avoid nicotine and other stimulants before bed
- Practice nightly relaxation rituals
- Make your bedroom a quiet and relaxing atmosphere
Make tonight a great night and hit the hay with these things in mind. After all, sleeping is free and a lot easier than lifting weights.
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Are e-Cigarettes a good way to wean yourself off regular cigarettes? Cardiologist Dr. Clint Allred has examined the research and answers this week’s listener question.
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AVOIDING ASTHMA ATTACKS THIS WINTER
Asthma may not be the first thing you think of when winter comes knocking, but the colder conditions can exacerbate symptoms for people with the condition. “The dry air dries out the mucus in the lungs, which is the natural barrier against temperature changes,” says Aaron Kobernick, MD, an immunologist with University of Utah Health Care. “This makes the smooth muscle more ‘twitchy’ and prone to asthma attacks when it comes in contact with the cold air.”
Cold weather also brings an uptick in colds and flu going around – both of which can make asthma symptoms worse. “Once again it’s the lack of mucus causing a problem,” says Kobernick. “Respiratory viruses take advantage of a reduced mucus barrier in the lung and causes trouble for asthmatics.”
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For more expert health news and information, visit healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed.