You’ve probably read about it in the news and I talked about it in my recent productivity challenge, sleep is an ally in achieving a healthy weight. But how exactly does it work? Here are some points that I find important and my solutions!
When we don’t sleep enough, a cascade of events is triggered. Our lack of sleep affects our brain in the same way as alcohol for example. Our ability to think clearly and make good decisions is greatly diminished. As a result, our workouts are less tempting and ordering good food instead of cooking is more appealing. Our good habits are out the window and our ability to fall asleep further diminish due to lack of exercise and a more difficult digestion. We end up perpetuating a limited sleep cycle!
One hormone I often talk about is the stress hormone cortisol. We produce it in more stressful situations – yes – but also when we are awake. The less we sleep, the more we produce it and the more we submit our body to this hormone. Its role? Ah well that’s where it gets interesting! Cortisol is responsible for activating our reward and appetite centers. The longer we wake up, the more we want to reward ourselves and eat. Our body wants to protect us at all time and therefore makes energy reserves when we’re awake – who knows what can happen while we sleep? (p.s. Our body acts like this due to our instinct … Poor him – he doesn’t know that we’re no longer living in caves!)
It has been proven that it only takes 4 days of sleep deprivation to trigger weight gain. Another factor that contributes to this situation is insulin. When we run out of sleep, our insulin sensitivity decreases by 30%. Which means that our body doesn’t use the sugars obtained from the digestion of carbohydrates (starchy foods, milk, fruits, added sugars) and therefore our sugar level increases … which is not very good especially for people already at risk or with a diagnosis of diabetes.
Sleep is the brain’s nutrition
We are all at risk of sleep deprivation. When you think about it – is it really a choice to make things better though? Not really since lack of sleep catches up with us at one time or another! Here are my tips for improving your sleep :
- aim for 7-9 hours of sleep (pssst! If you’re sleep deprived, it’s better to prioritize it rather than your training!)
- plan your night’s sleep in your schedule;
- eat enough during the day;
- avoid processed foods and refined sugars;
- take your last coffee or tea at 2pm;
- plan your training at the beginning of the day or at noon;
- set up a routine of 5-10 min before bed to disconnect (breathing, diary, meditation, etc.)
In short, sleep is essential and it’s our brain’s nutrition. I understand that we are busy and with advanced technology, it’s difficult to disconnect and take time to rest. But remember that we always have the choice to take care of our health!
What are your tips? Do you have trouble getting enough sleep? What is your experience?