What do sitting less and sleeping more have in common? And why would this be a recipe for health?
Sitting and sleeping are related to increased risk for chronic health concerns such as obesity, diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular problems, certain types of cancer and a lessened longevity.
Why would this be? It’s because of the way our metabolisms work. Both sitting the right amount of time and sleeping the right amount of time trigger our metabolisms to do the things necessary to see that our bodies work well and stay healthy.
The foot is a common link between sitting and sleeping. You see, the foot is a motion detector. Sensors in the feet add to other signals informing the rest of the body that we’re up and about. Pressure sensed by the feet provides a request that our metabolisms create the resources necessary to get us where we want to go. Sit too much and metabolism becomes inactive leading to disregulation of basic metabolic components (blood pressure, glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol and waistline size)
As we sleep, the pressure sensing capabilities of the feet are turned down. Moving about is not necessary. Sleep restores our bodies as decreased are basic components of metabolism such as glucose utilization, blood pressure as well as heart rate and sympathetic nervous activity. Hormones that regulate appetite and energy expenditure, important to weight control, are activated.
Sleep too little and restorative time is shortened. As we lay awake, the pressure sensors of the feet remain on alert with metabolism on daytime settings as well. Research shows those who fail to sleep enough are 55% more likely to experience metabolic syndrome, abnormal measures for 3 of the 5 basic metabolic components.
People with metabolic syndrome are two to three times as likely to develop cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes; twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke and more than three times as likely to die early from those causes. Those with metabolic risk factors in middle age have poorer cognitive function, suggestive of dementia or Alzheimer’s later in life.
What’s a person to do to stay healthy? Actually think about your body and its schedule. Make sleep a priority. Seven hours of sleep a night is recommended. Move more during the day. Take breaks from sitting, preferably 2 minutes every 20 minutes. Your glucose and blood pressure levels as well as musculoskeletal system will thank you. Walk 15 minutes after each meal. Aim for two hours more up and about time than you now do.