Are you hangry? Did you know that you can actually help control your appetite by doing something that is primal and vital to our living? SLEEP! Why in the world do we wear it as a badge of honor that “I only need 4-5 hours of sleep”? In this three-part series on sleep, we will explore why sleep matters to your physical and psychological health, how you can address your sleep patterns and sleep disorders, and some interesting facts you may not realize about what exactly is happening when you are between the sheets.
Sleep will not only help you build muscle, but will also help prevent the “hangry” feeling, which leads to overeating and eating junk. Your mind and your body will thank you for getting more sleep — seven hours to be exact — consistently.
Researchers at Columbia University found that those who sleep less than seven hours weigh more and are at an increased risk of developing diabetes or heart disease. Sleep deprivation is a serious health concern that can also lead to low productivity, depression, Alzheimer’s, mood swings, and eventually death. No wonder the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have claimed sleep deprivation as a legitimate public health concern!
The three reasons why sleep deprivation is so dangerous are alteration in glucose metabolism, increased appetite, and decreased energy expenditure. For those suffering from thyroid issues, during sleep deprivation, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) becomes significantly elevated and remains elevated throughout the day. Not good.
Sleep deprivation can also stop your fitness plan in its tracks. Here’s why:
Increases appetite for junk and for larger portions. Lack of sleep leads to the munchies. Sleep loss triggers chemicals that light up the brain’s pleasure centers in response to food. So, if you take a sleep-deprived nation and fill it with a Starbucks and 7-Eleven on virtually every corner, what do you think you’ll get?
Slows your metabolism: The rate that the body burns calories when at rest is 5 percent higher in people who sleep better, compared with poor sleepers, shows research from Uppsala University in Sweden.
Torches fat loss: A recent study from the University of Chicago found that people who ate the same number of calories but got a sufficient amount of sleep burned more fat than those who got less than 5½ hours sleep.
Some simple fixes if you are feeling sleep deprived:
- Get control of your cortisol.The stress hormone can be your #1 culprit for sleep issues. Check in with Megan, our Nutrition Therapist.
- Take a probiotics to aggressively address your gut health. New research shows that 80 percent of your body’s melatonin is actually made in your gut.
- Eat breakfast. Studies show women who skip breakfast have higher circulating cortisol levels in the afternoon.
- Do a 5-Minute Flow. Moving for 5 or 10 minutes, preferably between 7-8am, is all you need to do to combat low morning cortisol and help your cortisol levels rise.
- Eat leafy greens.These include spinach leaves, broccoli, and kale. They are high in the mineral folate which is important for hormones, energy, and repairing cells.
- Turn off the “lights.” Instead of blackout curtains, which prevent you from sensing the morning light of the day which can increase your melatonin, wear a sleep mask. This will block out most of the light but allow you to sense daylight so that it can start shifting your hormones once the sun rises. Or, buy a light-simulator clock. Another idea to consider is to go without your sunglasses for at least 10 minutes to ensure you get direct light exposure to your eyes.
- Remove electrical devices from the bedroom. That means no clock radios, TVs, or computers where you sleep. They can interfere with melatonin production in these vital night hours – and keep your brain awake.
In our next post about sleep, we will discuss the current topics in sleep issues: increased blue light/screen time; the short-sighted solution of sleep medication (60 million sleep meds dispensed in 2011!); and explore alternatives that can lead to healthy sleep.
So between now and then, your homework is to get some more ZZZZZZs.