Sleep: More Important than a Healthy Diet. ~ Katja Heino

Via elephant journal
on Apr 11, 2013
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courtesy of Photodropper
courtesy of Photodropper

Update: Sleep loss boosts hunger, unhealthy food choices (

Don’t let lack of sleep sabotage your healthy lifestyle.

Did you know that you would die from sleep deprivation before you starved to death?

It takes two weeks to die from starvation while 10 days without sleep would likely kill you. Sleep deprivation is increasingly becoming a public health epidemic as more and more people are suffering from not enough rest. Insufficient sleep contributes to depression, weight gain, cognitive impairment, cardiovascular problems, metabolic issues like diabetes, premature aging, cancers, low grade inflammation and mood swings.

More than 1/3 of Americans have trouble sleeping every night, 51 percent of adults say they have problems sleeping at least a few nights each week and 43 percent of respondents report that daytime sleepiness interferes with their normal daytime activities. The number of adults aged 20 to 44 using sleeping pills doubled from 2000 to 2004. And seeing that 1/3 of American adults now get less than six hours of sleep a night, my guess is that the problem is only going to get worse.

 An hour before midnight is worth two after. ~ Unknown

Research indicates that not only is it important to get enough hours of sleep but to also sleep at the right time. Sleeping from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. will leave you much more rested than sleeping from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. This is due to the fact that earlier in the evening is conducive to deep, non-REM sleep while as we approach dawn, our bodies are more prone to active REM sleep. This is definitely true for me. I feel the most vital when going to bed by 10 p.m. and waking early. Unfortunately, I find myself staying up way too late and still getting up with my early riser every morning by 6:30 a.m.

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book. ~ Irish Proverb

After spending years learning about and focusing on my health and diet, I have come to the conclusion that sleep is the most important component of a health lifestyle. You absolutely cannot be healthy without the proper amount of sleep. Our bodies and our emotional selves depend on this period of rest to function properly.

courtesy of Photodropper
courtesy of Photodropper

During sleep, our bodies regenerate and repair tissues and go through many other restorative processes. Not only does sleep help you recover after a long day, but also is crucial for hormone balance, immunity, emotional processing and detox. You can eat all the healthy food that you want and take all the expensive supplements that you can, but without proper sleep, your body will not be able to heal and maintain vitality.

So, let go of obsessing about your diet. Let go of extreme diets and food restriction. Stop exercising until you are exhausted on the floor. And get some rest. Making sleep a priority in your life will do more for you than all the supplements lined up on the counter or the next super food you heard about in the news.

 Simple tips for getting better quality sleep.

>>>Go to sleep at the same time every day. A routine cues the body to settle down for the night.

>>>Avoid stimulants. Coffee, sugar, and chocolate are all so tasty but are not conducive to good rest. If you must indulge, keep to the earlier part of the day.

>>>Reduce the amount of stress in your life. This is a tricky one. I encourage you to make good choices for yourself regarding the things that create stress for you. We have choices in who we spend time with, what we allow into our lives, and how we let all of that affect us. And for stressful things that are out of our control, finding effective coping techniques is essential for good health. Deep breathing and yoga are my go-to allies here.

>>>Exercise. Regular, moderate exercise is a great way to relieve muscle and mental tension. Try to avoid strenuous exercise in the evening as it can be over-stimulating. Gentle yoga is more appropriate for night time.

>>>Make your bed a place for sleep. Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep. Keep the TV, computer and work out of the bed. Let your bedroom be a haven from the busy-ness of life.

>>>Reduce exposure to artificial light. Artificial light throws off our circadian rhythm and impairs our body’s ability to produce proper sleep hormones. Chris Kresser gives some practical tips to reduce light exposure:

courtesy of Photodropper
courtesy of Photodropper

Don’t use a computer for two hours before going to bed. No late nights on Facebook and Twitter!

Use blackout shades to make your bedroom pitch black.

Cover your digital alarm clock or get an analog clock.

Turn off all digital devices that glow or give off any type of light.

If you can’t do these things for some reason, use a sleep mask.




Katja HeinoKatja Heino is a mama, devoted yogi, yoga teacher and kitchen witch at her health and wellness blog, the Savory Lotus. Real, unprocessed foods and embracing the good life. Read more about her search for balance in life at

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Asst. Ed.: ShaMecha Simms/Kate Bartolotta


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17 Responses to “Sleep: More Important than a Healthy Diet. ~ Katja Heino”

  1. Daniel Lewis says:

    Download f.lux

  2. Tara says:

    Thank you for this excellent post.
    Also want to mention for those who are finding the 10p to 6a impossible–not because of other commitments, but because that is actually not when the "best" sleep happens for some– people who are chronically phase shifted, or have delayed sleep phase syndrome will have trouble adhering to the specific times of day/night that are 'best' for sleep. (ie, the usual sleep hygiene practices are not enough to overcome it for some–would love if you/others can share ideas/thoughts on this.)

  3. SuzyReading says:

    The first few months with my newborn and the ensuing sleep deprivation showed me just how important good sleep is for clarity of thought and wellbeing! Restorative yoga and yoga nidra were my saving grace when I was nursing my newborn through the day and night. It is important to have a good self-care toolkit when it is simply not possible to get good sleep.

  4. Thank you for the article. The one thing I want to stress is that the number of hours of sleep are not important, it's the quality of the hours. I went through a very stressful time when all of sudden my body changed from needing 7 hours a sleep a night to needing 5 hours a night. I was convinced there was something wrong with me because I wasn't getting the average amount of sleep which caused an enormous amount of anxiety. I wasn't listening to what my body was trying to tell me. I think the most important component to getting good sleep is not thinking about getting good sleep. Just relax and listen to your body, it will tell you what to do.

  5. Jim McMahon says:

    My research led me to this same conclusion some years ago….although I try to have a healthy diet as well. No alarm for this boy. I wake when my body is ready.

  6. that's a good point. If you have to use an alarm to wake up day after day that's not good.

  7. fish says:

    here is another diet you can try:

  8. moneymaker says:

    Good article and a lot of information available. I enjoyed reading about this entry and all the information was very helpful to me.

  9. Barnaby says:

    If you thinks than Time And health are two precious assets that we don’t recognize and appreciate until they have been depleted.

  10. fred09red says:

    Most of the reading I did about sleeping and it`s importance was in college. Since I was a Psychology student specializing on memory function, I did quite a lot of reading. Almost all the papers mentioned the importance of going to sleep before midnight, that is when body cells get renewed. And then I discovered the diet. And it went perfectly hand in hand with a good night sleep and enough hours of rest per week.

  11. wendyRheaT says:

    All studies show that sleep is one of the vital activity for cells regeneration across the entire organism. If people knew how important this is, they would probably pay more attention to how they organize their lifestyle. There are so many places patients can go to, for recovery and therapies, like, for example, but more than this, it is important for them how to manage health issues prevention.

  12. wendyRheaT says:

    Sleep deprivation has severe outcomes upon general health conditions. This is why is it so important for sleep schedule to be respected accordingly at all ages. Recovery and therapeutic centers like mention the high importance of sleep and preserving a balanced life-work cycle.

  13. fred09red says:

    A parent always knows best how important sleep is for the well being and the healthy life of their children. have also published some interesting articles lately, as a cross match to this topic, about the important of prevention measures in children health. The more children and being taken care of, the less they face risks into developing chronic affections later on in life.

  14. fred09red says:

    When people cannot manage to sleep, they are overwhelmed with fatigue and bad moods. This decreases their stamina with every day going by and the organism develops chronic affections at some point. Causes to this can be numerous – stress, too much work etc. People even go to to find a balance in their lives and overcome this issue.

  15. greenfog says:

    All the Santiam Hospital specialists say that sleeping helps the body renew most of its cells and enhances brain activity and vital functions. Sleep has also become a big luxury these days, as everyone is living at a fast pace. There is a saying about how it is like to be young, to have enough time to sleep, but to never come to appreciate this enough, until becoming an adult and actually becoming aware of this.

  16. fred09red says:

    Recent research results revealed also by Williamsburg family dentistry have shown that a balanced life style and a correct diet have a great impact upon dentition. There are so many people wondering why do they have problems with their teeth when actually they preserve a strict hygiene rule? That must be the answer.

  17. fred09red says:

    A balanced lifestyle is also reflected upon the dental health, among many other aspects. This is something the have been insisting on, when promoting their services. Because they have the custom of going for the root cause of an issue, not just treating the bad effects.