The Importance of Sleep – Don’t Snooze? You May Not Lose!

Dog Sleeping in a Bed With a Sleep Mask | Pancakes & Pushups

Most people don’t realize the importance of sleep. When we’re younger, we take sleep for granted and embrace the late nights and crazy schedules as a part of our youth. As adults, we look at sleep deprivation as, “just a part of life.” We suck it up and push forward, giving little thought to what’s actually happening to our bodies. Aside from the fact that lack of sleep makes you feel horrible, the toll it can take on your body, more specifically your waistline, is reason enough to start focusing on more shut eye. 

Studies have shown that a lack of sleep causes increased levels of ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone in our bodies that stimulates the secretion of the growth hormone from the pituitary gland and causes increased hunger. The other side of evil that lack of sleep leads to is decreased levels of leptin, a protein in the body that regulates fat storage and your body’s ability to feel full and satisfied. 

This double dip of imbalance can lead to: 

  • Consuming more high-calorie, high-carb or fatty foods
  • Snacking more often than usual
  • Ditching a workout for couch time
  • Eating late at night
  • Overloading on caffeine

One study at the University of Colorado showed an increase in weight of two pounds for individuals that went just five days without a good night’s rest! That’s right, TWO POUNDS in five days! If that weren’t enough to get you sliding into your PJ’s for a little R&R, lack of sleep has also been linked to such diseases as 

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

Now, let’s talk stress. Stress is another unhealthy habit of adulating that we all tend to ignore. We spend our days stressed out about deadlines, money, kids and relationships. We chalk it up to being a temporary thing, but even being stressed out temporarily can wreak havoc on your weight loss goals.

In addition to the stress eating and stress drinking that we all tend to do, stress also causes your cortisol levels to rise. Cortisol is the stress hormone that regulates metabolism and controls fat. The higher your cortisol levels, the lower your chances are of losing fat, especially in the mid-section. 

Stress is also a huge factor in how often and how well you sleep. When your mind is running 50 miles a minute, you can’t ever quite get to that relaxed sate – and if you can’t relax, you certainly can’t get a good night’s sleep! As mentioned above, less sleep leads to more hormone imbalances – and BAM! Back on the hamster wheel to weight gain you go.

So at this point you’re probably thinking, okay great. So how much sleep do I really need? Although sleep requirements are different for every person, the average adult needs anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep a night to function properly. For most of us, getting this much sleep every night is impossible. Between work schedules, kids, errands and socializing, we’re lucky to get four or five hours a night. While I’m not suggesting you give up date nights for early bedtimes, there are some easy ways to get yourself on a better sleep schedule: 

  • Avoid caffeine after 3:oo pm
  • Try yoga, meditation or relaxing music 20-30 minutes before bed
  • Turn off all devices at least 30 minutes before bed
    • This includes the TV, phone, computer and iPad
  • Exercise regularly but avoid strenuous exercise three hours before bed
  • Take a power nap (15 – 30 minutes) early in the day when you can (I know – this one is difficult!)

In additional to all of this, try not to stress! Realize that life is not about perfection. It’s about doing the best you can every day. And remember, you may have things on your plate to take care of and worry over, but you must first take care of yourself to be strong enough to take on the world! Focus on winding down and relaxing. You’ll be amazed how a little extra sleep will improve your outlook and your waistline.

I would love to help you de-stress and help you with your nutrition and fitness, that way you have one less thing to worry about!  Consider a Consultation to get started or my highly acclaimed Kickstarter Plans that has everything you need to jump start your health and fitness!