The mistake I am talking about is… Not sleeping.
WARNING: Don’t fool yourself and think, oh, I can sleep later, I am too busy to sleep, sleeping doesn’t make a difference. Think again…you might not know this , but it can cause health problems.
If you had a choice between exercise and sleep for your health and waistline, hands down, sleep is the way to go! HC/PT Mike Geary says 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 starchy 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 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, lack of growth hormone also dramatically alters your body composition, shifting it to be MORE fat and less muscle – Yikes!
So here’s my 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 7-8 hours of sleep each and every night.
- Step 2: Make your bedroom completely dark, which maximizes your hormonal response, a sleep mask will also help!
- Step 3: Calm down your brain several hours before bed — limit TV, turn off your email and other devices, Relax and wind down, clearing your mind of your daily stresses and worries. Use essential oils on your pillow.
- Step 4: Don’t eat within the last 3 hours before bed time in order to maximize growth hormone production during sleep.
So sleep tight tonight and let your fat-burning metabolic machinery work it’s magic!