Sleep & Metabolism
Episode #3 of the course How to manufacture the greatest sleep of your life by Austin Gill
In the last episode, we learned that the sleep-stress relationship is a two-way street; lack of sleep causes stress, and sufficient sleep reduces stress.
Sleep affects your metabolism in the same way, especially in regards to your weight.
Sleeping less than five hours per night can actually increase your risk of obesity by 150% (Cappuccio, 2008).
One study showed that losing just 30 minutes of sleep leads to significant weight gain (Taheri, 2015).
What’s going on between sleep and metabolism?
1. Sleep deprivation, or sleep debt, throws off the hormones that regulate appetite by stimulating ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and suppressing leptin, the satiety hormone. This makes you hungry.
Additionally, when your brain is tired from lack of sleep, it becomes desperate for energy, which it typically gets in the form of glucose. Because glucose is most readily available from sugar and carbohydrates, you begin to crave those things.
Sleep loss doesn’t just cause cravings, it causes junk food cravings (Cauter, 2012).
2. Lack of sleep also impairs your glucose metabolism, causing insulin resistance (a precursor of metabolic disease) that deprives your body’s tissues of needed fuel even when fuel is available in your blood stream (Gottlieb, 2005).
In other words, your body is unable to use all that junk food you’ve just given it, so you’re still hungry. Get trapped in this cycle for too long and your body will lose its ability to regulate blood sugar and fat.
One study, in fact, showed that reducing sleep by three hours per night can completely negate the effects of restricting calories to as few as 600 (Chaput, 2012).
Proper sleep is the foundation of any effective weight loss or weight management plan. Sleeping less than seven or more than nine hours per night will counteract your weight loss efforts. So stay in the zone!
Sleep Improvement Tip: Develop a Nighttime Routine
There’s nothing worse than being exhausted but lying in bed wide awake because you can’t get the wheels in your brain to stop turning. The brain has to be given an opportunity to shift into a lower gear.
And since you’re now going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (remember episode 2!), falling asleep easily and on time is essential for a good night’s rest.
Remember how your body loves consistency? This is especially true before falling asleep. Insert nighttime routine.
A nighttime routine calms your brain. It also conditions your body and mind to fall asleep at a certain time each day.
Nighttime routines don’t have to be long. The most effective range from 15 minutes up to an hour, and the key to a successful one is selecting calming activities. Here are a few to consider:
• Turn off all electronics: TV, phones, tablets, computers, all of it. This is a must.
• Dim all the lights in your house, especially the bathroom.
• Take a bath with epsom salts.
• Wash your face/brush your teeth.
• Listen to calming music.
• Do some relaxation exercises, such as meditation or deep breathing.
• Write down things you need to accomplish the next day to get them out of your mind.
• Read fiction. (See what I’m currently reading below.)
Don’t expect your nighttime routine to work perfectly on day one. Experiment with different activities and find what works for you. It’s just one more ingredient to help you create the best sleep of your life.
Tomorrow I’ll be talking about how lack of sleep and poor sleep quality can result in metabolic dysregulation and even metabolic disease. Then the sleep tips continue.
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