The many influences of sleep on your weight, goals and results

Client: I don’t understand. All I did was start getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep and I’ve lost 5 pounds in a week.

Coach: nope, completely makes sense! 🙂

So you think lacking on some quality shut eye won’t hurt you? Think again.

Sleep is one of the most overlooked components that impact our lives. From productivity to our ability to lose weight, happiness to longevity, success to wellbeing.

Science will prove it, and research is continuing to uncover more ways that it’s playing a huge role in our day to day lifestyle and outcomes.

The following are the various influences that sleep has on our lives:

• Stress - lack of sleep can be a perceived - whether it’s a real or simply a thought - as a threat within the body and this in turn elicits the stress response - also known as your fight or flight response.

• Thoughts - when you slack on sleep you may find it more difficult to think clearly, rationally, and positively.

• Cortisol and adrenals - cortisol in appropriate amounts and cycles is necessary for stress management. Too much or too little and at the wrong times throughout the day is where trouble lies. You don’t want cortisol to be high at bedtime because it heightens alertness. But sleep deprivation tends to increase cortisol in the evening, thus keeping them up or making it hard to fall sleep and get a restful night sleep. Add to this that cortisol is linked to belly fat, stress and obesity.

• Hunger - lack of sleep means you’re more likely to feel tired, which also means feeling hungrier. It’s easy to misread being tired for being hungry or to having to push through your day though you’re tired and using food to get through it rather than sleep and rest. The hormone Ghrelin, increases, stimulating hunger too.

• Cravings - leptin, which is your appetite suppressing hormone and increases at night with ample sleep, is lowered. Making it easier for you to reach for whatever is available, quick and easy, and low quality.

• Mental/cognitive Function, Focus, Productivity- Both acute and chronic lack of sleep negatively impacts learning and thinking. From alertness, attention, focus, recall, memory, reasoning, creativity, and reaction time. If you ever compared when you’d stay up all night cramming for a test versus if you’d just turned in early and had enough shut eye, you’d have done better the next day if you’d done the latter.

• Mood - sleepless nights may leave you more irritable and short tempered. You may react more and be less rational in your words and actions.

• Energy - without enough sleep, you could be experiencing extra fatigue whether that’s all day chronic fatigue from when you wake up or that dreaded afternoon walk you hit.

• Metabolism and other hormones - leptin, ghrelin and cortisol have already been addressed in regards to hormones. As well as glucose metabolism. Thyroid function is also lowered in order to preserve energy and resources thus slowing metabolism.

• Blood sugar regulation - sleep deprivation causes alterations in glucose tolerance and insulin changing making it more likely to develop CVD and diabetes.

Immunity - certain immune cells peak at night while you’re sleeping which supports immunity.

• Inflammation - between changes in immune cell production, to growth hormone, to cortisol and adrenal hormones create an environment for inflammation.

• Sex drive - regardless of age and sex, lacking in sleep lowers your testosterone and when testosterone drops so does sex drive.

• Digestion - digestion is a parasympathetic system process. This means for it to be optimally functioning the body needs to be relaxed and calm not stressed or taxed. This is why some people can’t train on a full stomach without having stomach troubles. During sleep the body directs its energy towards digestion but without enough and sound sleep the digestive system won’t have enough time to heal and function well.

• Willpower - willpower is like a battery, it drains as the day goes on from thoughts, choices, and decisions. To recharge it we need to balance it and ensure you get a good nights sleep. Getting enough sleep will support you in thinking clearly, staying focused, and following through with your intentions and behaviors to reach your goals.

• Physical, strength - sleep supports strength training recovery. During workouts you tear your muscles down. In order to repair and get stronger and fitter, you have to sleep. Lacking strength and muscle correlates to metabolism so even if you want weight loss recovering from training is critical. Plus, pushing too hard without ample sleep and rest makes you prone to injury, balance, and low quality workouts in the future.

• Vision - insufficient sleep can lead to eye twitches, dry and red eyes, and even conditions like glaucoma according to research.

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