There is a plethora of information available on sleep, how much we need, when we need it, etc. As an example, one school of thought states that our bodies need sleep to heal and the best hours for natural healing to take place are between 10pm and 6am. The physical body repairs itself from 10pm – 2am and the mental mind repairs itself from 2am-6am. I’ve also read that ”power naps” or short naps during the day may be beneficial for some as well. Other research shows variations on sleep, including 3-4 hours sleeps with 1 hour of awake time in the middle, 30 minute naps every 6 hours, a daily 3 hour sleep plus 3 x 20 minute naps. Other research states that people getting less than 6 hours of sleep were more likely to suffer a stroke, heart attack or higher levels of stress hormones, whereas people getting more than eight hours of sleep were more likely to have cardiac issues or depression.
So …. what's your magic number? How much quality pillow time are you getting each night (or day)? Is the sleep you are getting sufficient and the right kind of sleep for you to operate at your best?
My thought is you know your body better than anyone, given you live in it 24/7, and you’re more than likely in the best position to know how much sleep you need and in what format you need it to function at your best. I personally aren’t getting an 8 hour block of sleep each night (and I sometimes tend to burn the candle at both ends!), however, I know when I need sleep and I ensure I get adequate sleep when I need it, as it’s important to me to be healthy in body, clear of mind, alert, energised and functioning at my best.
I found the following extract from Carolyn Hansen’s newsletter interesting food for thought!
A shocking new study from the Annals of Internal Medicine ( http://annals.org ) shows a common mistake nearly EVERYONE makes in the bedroom is absolutely killing their metabolism.
Not only does this mistake BLOCK your ability to reduce fat, it also gums up your hormones, drives up hunger, ages you rapidly, saps you of energy and damages your mental functioning.
What's worse, this mistake can force an otherwise "healthy" person to show the same type of insulin resistance and blood sugar problems as a full-on type 2 diabetic!
Unfortunately, most people don't even KNOW they are making this mistake...and what's worse, the solution that fixes it in only 15 minutes a week isn't widely publicized. More on that in a bit.
The mistake I am talking about is impaired sleep.
WARNING: Don't fool yourself and think, oh, I can sleep later, I am too busy to sleep, sleeping doesn't make a difference.
If you had a choice between exercise and sleep for your health and waistline, hands down, sleep is the winner...here are the 5 reasons why:
Not getting enough sleep makes you RAVENOUSLY hungry and skyrockets your cravings for the worst food possible. How? Another study published in the Public Library of Science shows why.
First, impaired sleep causes leptin, your "I'm full" hormone to go DOWN by 15.5%.
Second, it causes your "I'm hungry" hormone to go UP by 14.9%.
This sends your appetite wildly out of control – you wake up starving and completely useless until you can binge on the worst foods.
If that wasn't bad enough, impaired sleep gets you addicted to the WORST foods possible, driving your cravings for sugar, sweets and sugary carbs (breads, pasta, etc.) through the roof!
Leptin, the "I'm full" hormone, also controls your metabolism by influencing your thyroid hormone.
So when you don't get enough shut-eye and leptin goes down, your thyroid also goes down, which causes your metabolic rate (how many calories you burn at rest) to absolutely PLUNGE!
The result? More of the food you eat gets parked on your belly and thighs instead of being turned into energy to power you through the day.
It gets worse …. most people don't know that the majority of the "fat burning" process actually happens WHEN they sleep!
During sleep, leptin triggers specialized calorie- burning fat cells (yes, you read that right) to burn up excess calories that you don't need and to release that energy as heat.
So, when you miss out on that deep slumber, you deprive yourself of the PRIME fat burning window where the inches start to disappear.
Sleep deprivation also depresses how sensitive your cells are to insulin.
If you are LESS insulin sensitive, you need to crank out MORE insulin to clear any excess blood sugar that may be floating around.
And more insulin causes a double fat-making whammy by telling your liver to turn the food you eat into fat AND by locking fat in your fat cells so it can't be released to be burned.
Adding insult to injury, your body perceives lack of sleep to be a threat to its existence, so it fires up your stress hormone cortisol, which has been directly linked to excess belly fat.
Impaired sleep also damages your brain, cognitive abilities and mood.
Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester, completed a study showing that when we sleep, our brain flushes out potent neurotoxins that are normal by-products of our waking activity.
But if you let those by-products accumulate without taking out the garbage, VERY bad things happen – like brain fog, impaired memory, wild mood swings and trouble focusing.
Inflammation and oxidative stress also run rampant, causing even further damage to your brain and putting you at risk of developing age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's.
You ever see someone who hasn't gotten a good night's sleep in a few days? They look totally ragged, wasted .... and strangely .... OLDER!
That's because lack of good sleep ages you rapidly by robbing you of the small window of opportunity during which your primary "youth" hormone works its magic.
I am talking about growth hormone – your master rejuvenation hormone that mostly only comes out at night, helping you re-build and repair and keeping you young.
Aside from making your skin ragged, wrinkly and dry, lack of growth hormone also dramatically alters your body composition, shifting it to be MORE fat and less muscle – NOT what you want!
So here's a 4 step formula to getting more sleep and cranking up your metabolic engine:
Step 1: Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each week until you get to 7-9 hours of sleep.
Step 2: Make your bedroom completely dark, which maximizes your hormonal response.
Step 3: Calm down your brain before bed – no TV, no internet, no exercise, nothing.
Step 4: Eat at least 3 hours before bed time – anything less kills fat burning.
WARNING: This formula won't boost metabolism and fight aging if you are eating the WRONG foods as most people unknowingly do. Your metabolism will come to a halt, your energy will plummet, your thinking will slow and the ravages of aging will set in regardless of how much shut-eye you get.
So consider eating foods to spark your metabolic fire and keep it burning white hot 24-7. Examples of these delicious foods include:
Eggs – help shut down the fat making hormone insulin.
Avocado – extremely concentrated supply of natural fat to support body to go hunting for more fat to burn …. which means you don’t have to eat as much and you’re no longer hungry!
So sleep tight tonight and let your fat burning metabolic machinery work it's magic!
When you both eat RIGHT and get good, deep sleep, you enjoy a compounded, accelerated metabolic effect that really gets your fat burning engines going.
I’d be curious to know your thoughts around sleep? Are there any tips that work well for you that you’re happy to share?
For me personally in my life, I’m conscious of healthy nutrition, regular exercise and fun physical activity, quality sleep, social interaction, intimacy, intellectual stimulation, choosing a positive mindset and minimising stress. I also enjoy my tasty treats and a trip to Max Brenner can be a wickedly decadent experience, as can savouring a tantalising cocktail while overlooking Byron Bay or Noosa, however, I’m mindful of balancing with the philosophy of 'everything in moderation'! Sleep well, stay healthy and live a life you love! :-)
Karen Low is the owner of Coach Me Now! To learn more, please contact Karen on 0409 343 336
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