So How Important Is Sleep Anyway?
Is not getting enough sleep stopping your weight loss goals?
Disrupting your sleep/wake cycle will stress your body and increase your chances of gaining weight and putting a stop to your weigh loss because of hormone imbalances.
It is fair to say that generally as a race we sleep when its dark and wake when its light. This is the same for nearly all-living creatures. However we live in an age of 24 hour working and playing 365 days of the year. All this aside we are still tuned into a natural rhythm of natural light and darkness.
You’re probably thinking, why do we not just fall asleep when it becomes dark, if we are set to the light/dark cycle? Light stimulates our senses whether it comes from natural or artificial light. The hormone cortisol is released in response to many things, light being one of them. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and is released and is released when the body is under any kind of stress and light is a form of stress. You see your body receives light as a signal that it is time to move, work, or whatever maybe needed.
When the sun rises cortisol levels rise, peaking between 6 and 9am. They then drop a little but continue to stay elevated through to midday when we are active. As the day draws to a close cortisol levels drop allowing for the release of melatonin, allowing for the increase in repair hormones.
Disrupting the sleep/wake cycle, will stunt your goal of increasing your fitness or weight loss especially weight loss. If you go to bed after midnight, you have already missed out on two hours of repair time. If you have persistently gone to bed after 11 or midnight, you will find it difficult to train your body to fall asleep at 10.30. However you will eventually recondition the body to release the sleep hormones earlier and follow the natural sleep/wake cycles.
Here are some ways to optimize your sleep/wake cycle
Try and get to sleep before 10.30.
Keep the lights of for about 2 hours before bed, so if you sit up until then watching TV turn all the house lights of to minimize the amount of light stimulation before bed.
Avoid drinking coffee in the evening, or other stimulants that contain caffeine.
Do not eat late at night. If you do and you go to bed to sleep your digestive system will still be working on your late night snack which will mean a disturbed nights sleep to your body.
Water, water and more water. If your body becomes dehydrated it becomes stressed and as we have already mentioned stress hormones are released, which again disturbs our ability to get good sleep.
Exercise regularly, this can help you get a good nights sleep Just be sure to be aware of the time you train, if you train in the evening intensely for more that 30 minutes it can increase cortisol and again disturb you sleep/wake cycle.