Bill Clinton was famous for saying how little sleep he got and it was seen as a badge of honour. It was the same for those in the medical profession, until studies started showing that you're putting your heart at risk by not getting adequate sleep. You can increase your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and this likely increases your blood pressure and makes your arteries stiffer and less elastic. The data on how much less effective you are at work the next day are significant!

We live in a world where the gym never closes - and neither does the drive-through, for that matter.  Our 24/7 lifestyles can have potential health consequences that researchers are only beginning to understand.  For example, staying up late may predispose us to digest food differently, possible contributing to obesity.  In one study, mice exposed to dim light at night gained 50% more weight than mice kept in natural light cycle environment - even though both consumed the same number of calories and ha similar activity levels.  Studies also find that folks whose routines are not in sin with regular circadian rhythms - like people who work at night and sleep during the day - might be more vulnerable to heart disease, depression, diabetes and cancer.  "We evolved under cycles of light and dark," says Richard Stevens, PhD, of the University of Connecticut Health Center.  "Modern lighting has turned that on its head." So if you're up late - or wake in the middle of the night - keep lights and activity as low as possible to stay in tune with your body clock, he says.  And remember: "It's not a time to snack."


Susan Arruda