Sleep, The Ingredient That Has Been Missing From Your Health Routine
In our efforts to get healthy, we always tend to prioritize healthy eating and working out, and we forget about a very important factor that could be blocking all of our health efforts: SLEEP!
It is not entirely our fault. To be fair, rare are the traditional nutritionist or health coaches who ask about sleeping patterns in their health assessment or mention it in their recommendations at the end of the session. It is mostly about: How much do you eat? How many meals per day do you have? How frequently do you exercise?
So, how important is sleep?
1- One study revealed that just one night of sleep deprivation could increase our hunger hormone, ghrelin.
2- Another study confirmed that sleep modulates a major component of how our endocrine system controls appetite by affecting the hormone leptin. When we don’t sleep well, we have decreased levels of leptin, the hormone that tells us to stop eating.
3- As a result of 1 and 2, a lack of sleep will affect our body’s capacity to regulate appetite. In a very interesting experiment, two similar groups followed the same diet and exercise plan but had different sleeping schedules. The study clearly showed that the group that was sleep deprived gained weight while the one that slept well lost weight.
4- A lack of sleep also increases the levels of our stress hormone cortisol.
5- Many studies have also linked lack of sleep to decreased insulin sensitivity, which can result in weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
6- Finally, sleep is restorative. It gives our brain the rest it needs to help us think creatively, process complex decisions and subconscious thoughts.
So think about it!
Lack of sleep can disrupt our hormone balance and make us hungry and irritated. As a result, it can cause weight gain, fat storage and insulin resistance. It will also give us brain fog and affect our efficiency at work. No amount of green smoothies, yoga classes or gluten free diet can make up for a lack of sleep.
So, what can you do to sleep better?
1- Try to sleep and wake up every day at the same time, even on the weekend.
2- Make sure to use your bed only for sleeping. Do not work or watch TV in bed.
3- Remove all electronics from your room as they affect your sleep.
4- Cut-off all caffeine-rich substances after 5pm.
5- Create a soothing bedtime ritual. You can use calming smells that help you relax when you go to bed.
As a final note, we would like to highlight on the culture of lack of sleep. We are consistently encouraged in schools and universities to pull all-nighters, at work to do it all: work, workout, be social, have a family and take care of ourselves. However, if we actually want to do it all and be healthy, sleep has to be a priority in our lives. Sleep is as vital as oxygen and water!
Sweet dreams 🙂