When it comes to sleep, we've all heard how we need to get 8 hours every night. But what if I told you that you could lose weight just by getting enough sleep at night? Or that your lack of sleep is creating those sugar cravings you're fighting?
Being groggy in the morning and stressed out might not be the only side effects of getting poor sleep.
A few nights of poor sleep can lead to a host of problems, including:
- Impaired insulin sensitivity - Just one night of poor or missed sleep can make you as insulin resistant as a type 2 diabetic. Fortunately you can un-do these effects by getting back on track with good sleep, proper nutrition, and exercise, but the effects on glucose tolerance are nearly immediate.
- Cravings - When you get poor sleep, it turns out you're less likely to make good choices to help you get back on track. Sleep deprivation is a stress, and when a stress becomes regular (aka you always only get 4 hours of sleep), one of the first things our bodies do to adapt is to seek out food, particularly processed food. We also tend to have less willpower to resist these foods. And this adaptation isn't only reserved for poor food choices - anything that may tempt you is made more appealing when you're sleep deprived.
- Increased gut permeability - When your gut permeability is increased, it means that you body is able to absorb more into the blood stream than it might regularly. This impairs insulin sensitivity while increasing our reactivity to certain food. Hello, blood sugar spikes.
- Increased systemic inflammation - Even with the occurrence of little sleep loss, C-reactive proteins have a tendency to increase, which causes platelets to stick together (not good if you're at risk for heart attack). Inflammation causes a lot of problems which you can read more about here, but it's been documented that increased rates of Western diseases coincide with poor sleep habits.
- Impaired immune function - Even short periods of poor sleep loss and increase our likelihood of infection. As we all know, getting sick doesn't typically lead to the best eating habits.
- Altered anabolic hormones - Whether you're male or female, having your hormones at adequate levels is important for overall health. Sleep debt tends to shift us towards "catabolic," meaning that your body breaks down tissue. Want to lose muscle and gain fat? Don't sleep.
- Cognitive impairment - While this has nothing to do with your nutrition, it can't be looked over. Impairing your brain function ranges from not remembering your drive to work in the morning, daydreaming a bit too much, or not being able to focus due to brain fog.
Sleep is important, and if you're missing it, you can expect to see some negative health effects. Sleep allows our bodies to heal and recovery, especially our brains - which we rely on for approximately 35,000 decisions per day. Damaged tissues through normal wear and tear are repaired. We release anti-aging hormones such as growth hormone and melatonin during sleep. Inflammation is given an opportunity to relax and recover.
Stop wearing your sleep loss as a badge of honor. Take care of yourself, prioritize your sleep, and watch the results take place.
Some quick tips for making it a priority:
- During the day, get some sun to get adequate vitamin D. It's important for creating a regular cycle. Our bodies are smart, let it know when it's day and time to be alert and when it's night.
- Make your evening dark and tech-free (as much as possible). Make sure it's dark where you sleep without distracting lights (phones, power signals, etc).
- Sleep in a cool room. Studies show that optimal sleeping temperature is 64-66 degrees F.
- Make a consistent schedule and stick to it. Get to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time.
- Make sure your blood sugar is stable. Good food and good sleep go together hand in hand to keep you strong, health, and lean. Don't eat immediately before bed to avoid sugar in blood sugar, but also don't eat too far ahead of bed to avoid being hungry and have low blood sugar. Plus, if our blood sugar drops too long in the middle of the night, we can wake up due to the release of cortisol, which is trying to bring our blood glucose back up.
Looking to lose a little extra weight? Get some sleep.
Trying to perform your best in the gym? Get some sleep.
Working out really hard to reach your goals? Get some sleep.
Stressed out and cravings junk food? Get some sleep.
Seriously, just get some sleep.