Sleep: What it has to do with YOUR health!

With the passing of daylight savings last weekend I thought it would be appropriate to post about sleep and what it has to do with your health!

Sleep… What Does it have to do with my health? A lot actually! Sleep controls your hormones, your stress response, your body inflammation, mood, hunger, fullness, cravings, and so much more! In this article you will learn some interesting sleep and health facts you might not have been aware of!

Do you struggle falling asleep at night?

Do you wake up tired every morning?

Do you wake up in the middle of the night have trouble falling back asleep?

Do you get a surge of energy around the time you should be winding down for bed?

Anyone around here know what I am talking about?

(**sees every hand raised**)

So many people struggle with these problems so trust me, you are not alone! When you are sleep deprived, weight gain, sugar cravings, confusion, and slow metabolism (to name a few) may occur.

Does sleep affect your weight?

YES! And there are TONS of studies that demonstrate the connection between sleep and weight.

This is some of the research I have found:
– People who sleep less than 6 hours per night have a notably higher BMI than those who get more sleep (despite the fact that the overweight participants were more physically active and burned more calories…yikes!)
– Just 2 nights of sleep depravity can cause an increase in appetite (so yes, that means you cannot “catch up” on the weekends)
– People who log less than 8 hours of sleep a night are hungrier, in general

But Why?

– Sleeping less produces less leptin hormone (the hormone that makes you feel full)
– Less sleep= higher production of cortisol (stress hormone which increases appetite) No one wants a high cortisol…trust me!
– Loss of sleep interferes with carbohydrate metabolism which could lead to blood sugar swings and insulin resistance
– Less sleep= less natural growth hormone production; natural growth hormone directly controls the distribution of fat and muscle throughout the body (so that means less sleep = more fat, less muscle)

But I Can’t Fall Asleep…

– Relax and learn to rest your mind: spend the last 1-2 hours before bed in a restful, peaceful way

– Check out this article for a list of iPhone apps you can use for mindfulness and meditation or maybe invest in a Relaxation Sound Machine

– Eat well, sleep well: eating a diet rich in nourishing foods will help you sleep better; starving yourself will trigger the production of adrenaline and cortisol (two hormones that keep you awake)

Healthy Fats- such as Coconut Oil, organic and pasture raised meats, eggs, avocado and butter will provide your body with the necessary building blocks to manufacture sleep hormones.
Antioxidants- Essential for hormone production as well as removal of toxins that can impede sleep. Focus on vegetables, high nutrient fruits, and herbal or green teas (green tea early in the day only). The more colorful, the better!
High Protein Dinner:  Your evening meal should include proteins, vegetables and healthy fats. Eating enough protein at this meal will help prepare the body to enter the sleep cycle. In the evening focus on higher protein
– Turn off the lights: the body needs darkness to create melatonin a neurotransmitter that helps you fall asleep. Try to shut off electronics 2 hours before bedtime. Sound unrealistic?

– If you are working late, consider these glasses which will decrease the harsh effects of bright blue lights on your eyes; Bright lights late at night disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm.

– Supplement: Epsom Salt baths or Magnesium flakes, Natural Calm and Lavender, Cedarwood, Orange and Peace and Calming essential oils can aid in helping you fall asleep.

So if you dozing off and not paying attention to the post I can sum it up for you:

Lack of sleep= higher body stress= higher cortisol= weight gain, premature aging, hair loss, hormone imbalances, lowered immune function.

Some things to consider…..

How much caffeine are you drinking? How late in the day are you consuming it?
Is your bedroom dark enough? I know mine isn’t!! Even small amounts of light can affect your circadian rhythm. Consider getting some blackout curtains
Do you have too much screen time too close to bedtime? Blue light provides your body the ability to stay up all night binge watching netflix without getting tired! Blue light reduces your melatonin production– consider investing in some goggles to prevent your melatonin production from getting whacked out!
This bullet PAINS me to write because I hate being cold…Is your bedroom too hot?If your house is too warm it may be harder for you to sleep. Try keeping your house between 65-68 to help promote good sleep!
Did you know that alcohol can actually hinder sleep? It may be whats causing you to wake up mid sleep.
Whats on your mind when you are trying to fall asleep? A lot? (dont worry, me too)
Perhaps take some time in the evening to map out the next day so you arent thinking about it as you are trying to fall asleep…you can pick it back up in the morning when you are rested