No, we don't mean that habit (though it may help, too). We mean the habit of getting a nice, deep sleep. Nothing feels more rejuvenating. And it turns out that getting enough good sleep (seven to eight hours, night after night) is a key to keeping your blood pressure low (aim for 115/75).
If you're barely getting six hours a night -- that's all lots of people manage -- just sleeping one more hour makes a big difference, because not getting that much increases your high blood pressure risk by a huge 37 percent. Why? When you don't get enough sleep, your nervous system goes into overdrive, boosting your stress hormones and throwing your whole body into high gear. Your pupils dilate, your heart rate speeds up, your digestion slows and -- worse -- not only does your blood pressure spike, but, over time, those stress hormones turn temporary spikes into permanent high blood pressure.
Think you can make up for missed zzzs by sleeping in on the weekends? If only. Like your mortgage, sleep debt isn't easy to pay off. People who get just six hours on weeknights, then crash for 10 hours on both Saturdays and Sundays still show strong signs of sleep deprivation. You don't just feel groggy. Chronic lack of sleep is linked to everything from inflammation and depression to, yep, obesity. Lack of shuteye throws your appetite hormones into a gimme-more mode, and affects blood sugar levels in ways that up the odds of big weight gains. Go to bed early. Tonight. We are.
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The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz, host of "The Dr. Oz Show" and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic, are authors of "YOU: Losing Weight." For more information go to www.RealAge.com.
(c) 2011 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.