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The Three Biggest Lifestyle Detriments to Your Health

Overeating and lack of physical exercise have long been known risk factors for diabetes, and now lack of sleep may be added to the list.

These three hallmarks of the Western lifestyle are posing serious health risks for Americans. A recent study published online in in the June, 2009 issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that this deadly combination significantly increases the risk of developing diabetes.

University of Chicago researchers recruited 14 volunteers with an average age of 39 for the study.

The volunteers went through two 14 day periods of "couch potato" lifestyles, marked by little to no exercise and free access to food. During the first 14 day period, they were allowed to sleep for 8.5 hours a day and during the second period they were only allowed to sleep for 5.5 hours per day.

The researchers gave the participants two common sugar tests during both periods. They found that participant's responses to the tests changed during the period of reduced sleep. In fact, responses were similar to those observed in people with an increased risk of developing diabetes.

These findings emphasize what is becoming apparent to many people; maintaining a healthy lifestyle does not only mean eating well and exercising, it also means getting at least 6.5 hours of sleep per night.

Lack of sleep has many other negative effects on the mind and body beyond diabetes risk. These include increased risk of high blood pressure, weight gain, stroke and depression.

There are many ways to improve your sleep. Some helpful tricks include:

Listening to white noise like a fan

Avoiding snacks right before bed

Avoiding caffeine and alcohol

Exercising more during the day

Going to bed around the same time every night

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