- Poor sleep is identified as a stressor to your body and your body compensates by increasing its stress hormone CORTISOL! Cortisol causes you to crave high-fat and high-carb foods. First, you have increased cravings due to cortisol and on top of that poor sleep will cause your body to increase GHRELIN production. This hormone increases your appetite!! A physiologic double whamming for increased caloric consumption. So… if that wasn’t enough… poor sleep also causes a decrease in the hormone LEPTIN. Leptin’s job is to promote signs of fullness to tell you to stop eating.
- Poor sleep impairs the body’s ability to regulate sugar metabolism. Poor sleep causes increased levels of glucose and insulin in the body’s blood stream. Chronic elevation of glucose and insulin causes your body to become “numb” to the elevated levels. The elevated levels and the body becoming “numb” does not allow for the glucose to be transferred into cells to create energy for your body. The elevated glucose in your bloodstream increases inflammation and gets stored as FAT.
- Poor sleep causes feelings of tiredness and LOW ENERGY… which makes engaging in physical activities or going to the gym a challenge.
3 main components to “HEALTHY” sleep:
- The hours spent sleeping -aim for at least 7-8 hours per night
- Quality of sleep -less interruptions the better
- Consistent sleep schedule
What can I do NOW to improve my sleep??
- Try to stick to a sleep schedule. Do your best at going to sleep and waking at similar times everyday.
- Make your sleeping environment dark!! Even the slightest light can disrupt your hormones that cause you to feel rested! Invest in black out curtains and get those cell phones out of the room or at least face down on DO NOT DISTURB mode.
- Avoid electronic use one hour before bed time. The blue light from your screen confuses your hormones that signal your body that it is time to sleep. If you need to use electronics in that hour invest in some blue light blocking glasses to try to minimize exposure.
- A consistent evening routine can help signal your body that it is time to rest. Examples could be a 10 minute meditation, 10 minutes of light foam rolling or stretching, or even writing down three things you were grateful for that day or journaling.
- A cold environment promotes healthy deep sleep. Aim for your sleeping environment to be below 70 degrees.
- Eliminate caffeine after noon! Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 10 hours!! 6 hours after consuming caffeine ½ of it is still in your body!
- Reduce alcohol consumption! You may feel you can fall asleep fine after drinking but alcohol causes an increase in sleep disturbances which also leads to a decreased sleep duration!
- Hydration is important! In fact, you should aim to drink ½ your body weight in oz daily… just be sure to try to hydrate earlier in the day and back off on the fluid intake a couple hours before bed to minimize waking to pee during the night.
I get it… Some of these seem so OUT of your CONTROL!! Life can throw curve balls, children may wake you up “too early,” working odd hours at your job, etc.
So….. most importantly I urge you to start small… Find one thing that is WITHIN YOUR CONTROL and implement that… Then come back and find another… With each small change your sleep and health will begin to transform positively!!