You have heard it for years, get more sleep. Everyone knows it but a small majority of people actually do it. Why is sleep so important?
You know the basics.
- More energy
- Less irritability
- Less stress
- Longer life expectency (it’s true)
- More muscle tissue
- Less fat
I know that one probably got your attention. This is exactly the one I want to talk about today. I want to give you the down and dirty version about why less sleep can make you fat and more sleep can help you burn it.
It all comes down to your hormones, two hormones specifically. GH (growth hormone) and Cortisol. When you sleep, growth hormone is produced. This is a lovely benefit to your body because it helps you build muscle and repair the damaged tissue.
On the other hand, cortisol is a stress hormone, tied to your fight or flight response. The occasional surge in cortisol is great when you’re chasing your child after he ran into the street or lifting a big weight at the gym. Not so good when you want to ditch that little extra belly fat. Stress causes an increase in cortisol and when cortisol is elevated or constantly spiked, it makes it much more difficult to lose fat.
While you sleep, cortisol is extremely low. Combine that with the high GH production and your body is in a primed state to burn fat. This isn’t so simple as just going to sleep though. You have to have consistent, restful sleep.
Easier said than done.
Your hormones, specifically GH and Cortisol, are one of the main reasons why you are not getting results. If you are training hard, eating right and you still struggle with results, it’s time to look to your environmental factors. Today the focus is on sleep. I want to give you eight tricks that can help you lose fat starting this week.
It all starts with creating an optimal environment for restful sleep that last at least 7 hours. I know, I know. You’re going to tell me that you just CAN’T get that much sleep. You are too busy. I call B.S.
The goal is to get toward this optimal sleep state. If it’s not every night at first, just build it up. Start with two nights and commit to a specific bedtime. Then add a third night. Keep going until you are as close to seven as possible. I’m a realist, I know you sleep in a bit on the weekends. Who doesn’t? But for the most part, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time as many days as possible.
Here we go with your tips….
- Put away all back-lit screens 1 hour before bed (iPads, iPhones, lap tops or televisions).
- Use black out curtains in your bedroom
- Stop caffeine intake by 1pm each day
- Try and go to bed at the same time each night this week
- Avoid alcohol during the week as much as possible. If not possible, avoid it 2 hours before bed
- Try to wake up without an alarm as many days as possible
- Keep your bedroom temperature cooler than the rest of your house
- Write down your “to-do” list before you go to sleep to help shut off your brain
These tricks may seem simple, and they are, but that is what it takes to create a fat loss supportive lifestyle. You have to look at not only the training, nutrition and stretching, but the environmental and hormonal factors.
Next week I’ll be back with an article on how to manage GH and cortisol through the foods that you eat.
Be sure to “Like” this post and let’s start spreading the word about just how important sleep is. Also leave a comment below if you are going to start improving your sleep.