Sleep more = get leaner, be smarter
12/12/2022 # Nutrition
What’s So Great About Sleep?
Sleep restores everything in our bodies: Our immune, nervous, skeletal, hormonal, and muscular systems. We “rest and digest”.
Sleep helps regulate our metabolism, including blood sugar and insulin levels. Eventually, chronically inadequate sleep can actually make us gain fat and develop diabetes.
Sleep helps us make and recall memories. We think, learn, and make decisions better when well-rested.
Most people need at least 7 hours of sleep per night, and likely more.
Light: Making our body clocks tick:
Several factors control our daily physiological cycles (known as our circadian rhythm). The biggest one is our exposure to light.
Few of us wake up with the sun rising and go to bed when it sets.
Other sources of light now interfere with our body clock.
Daytime light is great. It wakes us up and regulates us. Get as much as possible, especially early in the day.
Nighttime light is not so great. It messes with our body clock, making it harder to fall asleep and/or stay asleep. Reduce or eliminate it as much as you can.
- Turn off your electronic screens — If you absolutely must be on your computer late at night, dim the brightness or try this little app: F.Lux.)
- Use a dim alarm clock, and/or cover it up.
- Get good curtains.
More sleep, better health:
Sleep regulates our metabolism and helps keep us lean and healthy.
For instance, because sleep helps regulate our blood sugar, lack of sleep can actually cause or worsen insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, even in healthy people!
A 2005 study found that the less sleep people got, the more weight they gained over time, and the more likely they were to end up obese.
Staying awake beyond midnight seemed to increase the likelihood of obesity.
The later their bedtime and the shorter their sleep hours, the more body fat people gained.
More sleep means better habit consistency.
Many folks find that late night is the perfect time for a snack. And at 11 p.m., almost nobody is eating steamed broccoli.
Go to bed, and that temptation is removed.
Plus, being well-rested usually means fewer food cravings and smarter choices the next day.
More sleep makes you feel happier and saner.
Finally, abnormal circadian rhythms have also been associated with depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder.
An article in the New York Times even suggests that some apparent cases of child and adult ADHD actually result from sleep deficits.
Staying awake doesn’t sound so great any more, does it?
Give sleep a chance:
You need good, regular sleep — and a good sleep routine.
Sure, we live in a busy world. But we don’t have to be victims.
While we have more opportunities to do things other than sleep — 24-hour cable TV, Internet, email, extended work shifts, family commitments, and more — most of the time we choose what we do.
Now, some things are outside our control.
If you’re dealing with a new baby, sleep apnea, or hormonal imbalances, you might struggle to get sleep.
That’s OK. We’ll keep working on it together.
Control what you can control — your behaviors. Today, work on your sleep ritual and good sleep habits.
What to do today:
1) Build your good sleep habits, starting with a pre-bed ritual.
You can’t control how much you sleep, but you can control your behaviors.
2) Prioritize sleep in your life.
Bump sleep up your “to do” list.
Remember: unless you’re 5 years old, you control when you go to bed.
3) Use light-dark cycles to help you get your Zs.
During your awake times, get as much bright light as possible. Go outside and get sunlight if you’re able. Even 10–15 minutes will help set your body clock properly.
If you’re working a night shift, find yourself a bright light or a light box.
In the hour before bed, dim the lights as much as you can. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible. And of course, no electronic screens!