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Between the Sheets

If you are serious about your body, optimum health begins between the sheets…

Sleep is one of the most important factors in maintaining optimal metabolism, supporting normal endocrine function and regulating appetite.  Research noted in Psychoneuroendocrinology, suggests that sleep deprivation may sabotage healthy eating efforts, wreak havoc on your metabolism and weight management efforts, and disrupt your satiety patterns.  When less than optimal levels of sleep are had, higher levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone” is released throughout the day, which alters the proper regulation of blood sugar levels, which in turns makes is difficult to control your appetite and can cause weight gain.  Sleeping less than six hours has been shown to increase hunger, increase cravings for sweets, and ultimately may lead to weight gain.  Lack of sleep can increase the secretion of ghrelin, the “hunger hormone”, which regulates satiety.   Besides regulating appetite, ghrelin also plays a significant role in regulating the distribution and rate of use of energy.

As we age, our sleep requirements change.   For instance, the National Sleep Foundation recommends up to 17 hours of sleep per day for newborns, down to 6 to 8 hours for adults.  With chronic sleep loss, you start to accumulate “sleep debt” that cannot be fully recovered.  Chronic sleep loss also causes fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and adversely affects brain and cognitive functions.

Like healthy eating and exercise, the effectiveness of sleep is highly dependent on consistency.  The amount and quality of sleep also may impact your workout performance, such as decreased strength, decreased cardiovascular performance and decreased exercise recovery time.  Progressing toward a healthy, fit body requires a lot of dedication, motivation, hard work and even more sleep.

Here are 4 healthy bedtime habits to go to sleep.  Others can be found on the American Sleep Association website:

  1. Create a wind-down routine

Go to bed around the same time each night.  Relaxing habits such as drinking decaffeinated tea, taking a warm bath or shower, moisturizing with lavender lotion or meditation, can que your body to prepare for sleep.

  1. Technology ban

Avoid using the computer and TV as much as possible as part of your bedtime routine. The screen on these devices just further stimulate your senses. Sometimes when you’re very tired, you’ll fall asleep with the TV on, and a few hours later you’ll be disappointed when the noise from the TV awakens you up from slumber. Instead, calm your mind with reading a good book or listening to soothing music.

  1. Avoid a late-night sugar rush

Avoid sugary foods, nicotine and alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol can be responsible for disrupting the most important part of your sleep cycle and can wake you up in the middle of the night. A better solution would be to try calming your body with simple yoga stretches.

  1. Lights out, it’s time for bed

It is important to sleep in a room that’s dark, because lights can be stimulating. Exposure to light also affects your natural circadian rhythm. It feels natural to go to sleep when it’s dark, so turn off the lights near bedtime. If your sleep environment is naturally lit, or if you’re a night-shift worker, consider installing light-blocking curtains. If you’re a frequent, try using a good eye mask at bedtime on your travels.

Remember, sleep is essential for healthy living and maintaining a healthy body.  Sleep will help you on the road to good fitness, good eating and good health.  So, try your best to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep within every 24-hour period.  Be well!