You’ve been eating right. You’ve put in time at the gym. However, the scale is not budging, and you still look the same when you look in the mirror. Quick question.
When’s the last time you had a good night’s sleep?
Sleep is often pushed aside in today’s 24-hour society. Can you remember when shopping centers weren’t open 24 hours a day? Or when there wasn’t such a thing has night-shift disorder?
People used to wake up with the light and go to sleep with the dark, and any shopping or working happened in between. How times have changed.
Ten to twenty years ago, did sleep disorders such as Periodic Limb Movements which is when you suffer from movements, most typically in the lower limbs, occuring about every 20-40 seconds even exist?
What about sleep apnea, when there is a reduction or a pause in breathing when you sleep?
With the amount of sleep disorders diagnoses increasing combined with our 24-hour non stop society, sleep for some people is becoming harder and harder to come by.
However, does it really matter?
Yes. Yes, it does.
It is not just because of little things like bags under the eyes. Sleep deprivation can put you at risk for heart disease and heart attacks, which is serious stuff. Not getting enough sleep also messes with our hormones, particularly Cortisol.
Cortisol, produced in your adrenal glands, is naturally high in the morning to help you wake and low in the evening to help you sleep. However, when there’s a combo of stress and sleep deprivation, cortisol increases during the day, rather than decreases.
And elevated levels of cortisol causes:
Muscle breakdown- Cortisol’s main function is breaking down substances for energy. That includes your hard-earned muscle.
Weight gain- A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that lack of sleep impacts your brain in such a way that it pushes you towards the pantry, not away from it. Only one night of fewer than six hours sleep triggers areas of your brain that’s involved in your need raid the pantry.
Ages your skin- Elevated levels of cortisol from lack of sleep causes a breakdown of collagen, which helps keep you skin smooth and elastic.
Most people, including myself, go through periods of stress and sleep deprivation. But don’t despair; you only need to make a few small changes to help get that good night’s sleep you have craved.
Timing your food intake- Eating most of your protein in the morning/afternoon and have your dinner with some carbohydrates (fruit/vegetables, not sugar) which aids in maintaining a proper Circadian rhythm.
Manipulate light exposure- Manipulating light exposure for brighter white/blue/green lights in the morning and dimmer red/pink lights (or just darkness) at night helps in maintaining a proper sleep cycle
Supplement with Melatonin- This is a naturally occurring substance in the body, but supplementing melatonin can help to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. I take this every night and it works for me. (Since the FDA does not regulate supplements, there is inconsistencies in brands, so if one doesn’t seem to help, you might try another brand.)
Please help your waistline by using the three methods above to get more shut-eye. If you still need assistance, please schedule an appointment with your doctor. Your body will thank you, and since a rested person is less irritable, your friends and family will too.
If all else fails, there’s coffee.