What aren’t you getting enough of to help you lose fat?
Is it exercise? Maybe.
Is it healthy food? Maybe.
But I am talking about SLEEP!
Adequate sleep is the most overlooked aspect of health and weight loss. Sleep is essential to feeling our best, balancing our hormones, and lowering stress. With busy schedules, television shows, or social life we cut back on the sleep and pour another cup of coffee the next morning.
Sleep is the cornerstone of eating will and getting exercise in. Did you ever notice after a poor night of sleep that the following day all you want it carbs and sugar? You’re energy is low, so you just want a pick me up. Here comes the extra cup of coffee and the candy. Get that quick buzz so that you can focus and push through the day. By the time evening comes you’re tired but wired from the poor food choices so you have another poor night of sleep. It becomes a viscous cycle of sugar and caffeine.
When you’re low on sleep, exercise is the last thing on your mind. Where is the energy going to come from to move? (Maybe sugar and caffeine?) Being well rested will help you have the best workouts and recover fast. As Dr. Phil Maffetone says TRAINING = WORK + REST. Rest is often forgotten in this equation but it is essential for helping you achieve the results you want.
How much sleep is enough?
Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. This will change throughout the year based on the sun exposure we get. If you live in Wisconsin, you’ll sleep more in the winter and less in the summer.
Also when you sleep is important too. Our body clock or circadian rhythm regulates our daily sleep and wake patterns This body clock is dependent on light signals allowing the proper release of hormone and neurotransmitters to allow the body to function.
Ideal time to go to bed is around 9 – 10pm.
Our physical body repairs from 10pm and 2am.
Our nervous system repairs between 2am and 6am.
Now we need to focus on the “how” of sleeping.
You want to be in a deep sleep so that you can get all of the healing benefits. When you are getting up every couple hours this is not happening. Here are a few things that inhibit you from getting into a deep healing and restorative sleep
1) Alcohol – you may pass out but your body is working hard to detoxify the alcohol you consumed. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and does not allow you to get in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep.
2) Caffeine – It’s a stimulant and surpresses slow wave sleep, the most restful and rejuvenating sleep cycle.
3) Bright Light – Are you thinking Gizmo? Bright light keeps your brain thinking it’s day time, keeping cortisol high and sleep-promoting melatonin low. As it gets closer to bed time get off the computers, i-phones, and I pads (Facebook will be there in the morning). The bright intense screens will be keeping cortisol high. Also, don’t fall asleep with the TV on. It would allow you to get the restful sleep you need. I use a sleep mask to ensure my room is very dark so I can sleep deep and sound. I also have a sound machine if it’s taking awhile to fall asleep.
4) Sugar – This too will keep cortisol levels high and melatonin levels low. In addition, you’ll have a blood sugar drop in the evening, causing you to wake up and want a snack. If you need to have a snack before bed, choose a snack high in fat. This will balance your blood sugar throughout the night.
A sleep schedule is ideal.
You’re body will get a good rhythm of when to fall asleep and when to wake up. Try it for 21 days in a row and you’ll be amazed that you’re body will be set to get tired and wake up at the same times!
What can you do to set yourself up for a wonderful night of sleep? Here are a few tips:
- Journal – if you have a busy mind, get it on paper so it does not keep you up.
- A relaxing bath – add some epsom salts for the restful magnesium and the relaxing aroma therapy of lavender
- Dim the lights
- Massage or foam rolling to relax tight muscles and release stress
- Deep breathing and slow stretching
- Soft music
- Positive reading – don’t read the latest thriller or the newspaper before bed. These will only add to stress that we want to relieve
Could you sleep yourself THIN? You bet!
It’s part of the health equation of Dr. Quiet, Dr. Diet, Dr, Happiness and Dr. Movement (From “The Last Four Doctors” Paul Chek)