March is a big month for catching up on your sleep. Two major events are taking place in the next few weeks.

National Sleep Awareness Week is happening from March 5 to 11, while World Sleep Day is a global event is happening on March 17th. We also have the clocks jumping forward on March 12th…which means losing an hour of sleep (blah!) but I have to say I’m excited for the longer daylight hours.

 

In honour of all the sleep talk I want to dive into why so many of us are not getting enough sleep.

Lack of sleep doesn’t just make you tired. It also makes you gain weight, according to scientists.

There are so many important chemical reactions in the body that involve healing and repair when you sleep and if you are not sleeping enough this can drastically effect your hormone levels resulting in slower or stalled weight loss, making it extremely hard for you to sick to any kind of food plan without experiencing major cravings or erratic hunger.

Here are Top 3 Reasons Why:

1. Hormone Response

Within just four days of sleep deprivation, your body’s ability to properly use insulin (the master storage hormone) becomes completely buckled.

Here’s why that’s bad: When your insulin is functioning well, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from your blood stream and prevent storage. When you become more insulin resistant, fats (lipids) circulate in your blood and excrete more insulin. Eventually this excess insulin ends up storing fat in all the wrong places, such as tissues like your liver. And this is exactly how you become fat and suffer from diseases like diabetes.

2. Lack of Sleep Makes You More Hungry and Crave More Junk Foods

Sleep balances your appetite by maintaining proper levels of ghrelin and leptin.

Leptin is a hormone that is produced in your fat cells. The less leptin you produce, the more your stomach feels empty. The more ghrelin you produce, the more you stimulate hunger while also reducing the amount of calories you burn (your metabolism) and increasing the amount fat you store.

Not enough sleep may cause unbalanced levels of prolactin which is linked to a lowered immune system and sugar cravings. So you’re more likely to crave that donut or piece of cake.

3. Messes Up Your Workouts

Just as important, lack of sleep makes it harder for your body to recover from exercise by slowing down the production of growth hormone, your natural source of anti-aging and fat burning that also facilitates recovery. This happens in two different ways:

1. Poor sleep means less slow wave sleep, which is when the most growth hormone is released.

2. As previously mentioned, a poor night of rest increases the stress hormone cortisol, which slows down the production of growth hormone. That means that the already reduced production of growth hormone due to lack of slow wave sleep is further reduced by more cortisol in your system. It’s a vicious cycle.

 

So How much Sleep Should You Be Getting?

It depends from person to person. Generally speaking a person between the ages of  20-65 is recommended to get between 7 and 8 hours a night. Women tend to need more sleep than men.

If you’re a person that is really active or exercises a lot than I would aim to get closer to 8 hours a night. Teenagers need 8-10 hours a night, toddlers and young kids need 11-12  hours per night and the need for sleep starts to decline with the elderly due to decreased levels of brain chemicals (serotonin and melatonin). They also tend to catch naps during the day.

 

10 Quick Tips to Sleep Better

  1. Cut off caffeine. Nothing after 2pm. This is to ensure there is no caffeine in your system at bedtime.
  2. Start to turn the lights down around 7pm – This will give your body and mind a cue to slow down and that sleep is approaching
  3. Go to sleep on time and preferably before 11pm – getting to bed earlier than a 11pm is proven to give you a better quality sleep
  4. Sleep in a dark room, no street lights shining or any bright clock lights (cover them up) – shinning lights of any sort can interfere with your sleep/wake cycle
  5. Drink a Magnesium drink 30 minutes prior to sleep – Magnesium is known to decrease cortisol, the “stress hormone” that can keep you  up at night. It also helps muscles relax, to give you that calm “sleepy” feeling and help you unwind after a long day.
  6. Use lavender essential oil – Lavendar essential oil is an excellent choice to relieve stress, but can also be used as an anti-depressant, and sedative
  7. Eat Whole Foods – good quality nutrients is how our bodies function optimally including quality sleep – to learn how to eat right click here –> http://bit.ly/Fat-Loss-Blueprint
  8. Exercise – it’s important to burn more calories and energy during the day. When this happens your body will crave a more restful sleep. If you need help on where to start click here > http://bit.ly/Workout-Challenge
  9. Drink More Water – Proper hydration is so important for restful sleep. Our body and brain chemical reactions depend on water. More about water here –>  http://bit.ly/WaterJVB
  10. Try to wake up at the same time every day (weekends included). It’s important to have a schedule for your body so even if you are tempted to sleep in on the weekend try not to because this could affect your next nights sleep.

I hope this sheds some light on why sleep is so important for fat loss … but really for every aspect of your life.

Wishing you some good quality Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz tonight 🙂