By Jen Fullhart
Dalai Lama once said, “Sleep is the best meditation.” Ask yourself how many hours of sleep you get each night. Ask yourself what the quality of that sleep is. Now, ask yourself what your goals are. Chances are, you’re not getting enough sleep to reach your goals. Sleep allows our mind and body to fully relax and recover from everything we put ourselves through!
Our society seems to run at a fast pace and we are often on the go. Unfortunately, the one thing we seem to sacrifice is our sleep. The less we sleep, the more time we have in our day, right? Yes, that’s true, but if you aren’t able to reach your goals because you’re sacrificing your sleep, sleep needs to become a priority.
There are several stages of sleep that will complete one 90 minute cycle. It’s recommended that people go through the entire sleep cycle 5 times, which means on average, we should be getting about 7.5 hours of sleep each night. The proper amount of sleep helps to regulate our hormones, and of course helps with the recovery process from exercise.
So, how does this affect our goals for weight loss? Our bodies produce hormones that tell us when to eat (ghrelin) and when to stop eating (leptin). If we don’t get enough sleep, our leptin levels will decrease and our bodies will produce more ghrelin. As a result, we have increased feelings of hunger. No one likes to be hungry! Without enough sleep, our stomach may be full, but our brain will tell us to continue eating because of our increased ghrelin levels. Regulating our ghrelin and leptin levels through adequate sleep will help us reach our weight loss goals. Our bodies also produce cortisol which will increase our appetite if not regulated. Cortisol will store excess calories in our body as fat. Without sleep, we can’t regulate our cortisol levels, so our body is more likely to hang on to fat, burn muscle and we’ll see an increase in appetite.
There are several micronutrients that will help aid in sleep quality. These include B Vitamins, calcium, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper and Iron. Most adults consuming primarily whole, nutrient dense foods, will be consuming an adequate amount of each of these micronutrients and there’s no need to closely track our consumption of each of these.
So, what can we do to increase our sleep quality (other than prioritizing sleep, of course!)? Have a routine. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, eliminate caffeine consumption at least 8 hours prior to bedtime, avoid consuming alcohol three hours prior to going to bed, exercise regularly and of course, clear your mind of stress.
Being deprived of sleep can have many negative effects on our body and may inhibit our ability to reach our goals. Set your alarm clock to go to bed! Make sleep a priority and you won’t regret it! Your body (and your mind) will thank you!