Whenever we meet with our clients for the very first time, we will always have a good read through their questionnaires. We have a comprehensive section on sleep, and for a very good reason. But before we go in to any more detail, we’d like you to answer these 6 questions.
- Do you sleep less than 7 – 8 hours per night?
- Are you exhausted when you get home at the end of your day?
- Do you feel wired in the evening?
- Does it take you more than 10 minutes to go to sleep?
- Do you wake up in the middle of the night?
- Do you wake up feeling tired every morning?
If you have answered yes to at least 4 of the above, the chances are you could really do with addressing the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Why is sleep so important?
Poor quality sleep has such a large impact on your body on a daily basis.
The major disruption to the body when it comes to poor sleep is in your hormones. The major hormones that are affected are growth hormone, melatonin, cortisol and insulin. These are the very hormones that need to be in balance for optimal body composition.
- Growth hormone plays a key role in the development of your muscles and bones, it also plays a key role in fat burning. You produce a large portion of your growth hormone in the first 2 hours of deep sleep. Growth hormone levels naturally start to decrease from your late 20’s. Poor sleep patterns only contribute to its speedy decline. If you have enough growth hormone you will be able to build lean muscle more effectively, and this is key for optimal fat loss. Fat loss becomes very difficult if you have low levels of growth hormone and a simple step like optimising your sleep can help to rectify this.
- Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland and promotes healthy sleep cycles and is also involved in energy metabolism. Waking up in the middle of the night interrupts melatonin pro- duction, especially if you turn on the light. If you do wake up, make sure you keep the light off, or use dimmer lights that you can place on the floor. Our bodies need complete darkness to produce this hormone.
- Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and is part of our survival mechanism. It comes into use when we need to be alert in a given “ ght or ight” situation. We produce cortisol naturally in the morning as we wake up, and our levels gradually lower as the light fades and we move into the evening. The problem with many peo- ple is that their cortisol levels are back to front and they nd themselves wide awake late at night, and unable to wake up in the morning. This cycle is known as our circadian rhythm, our natural sleep/wake cycle. We are supposed to produce the stress hormone cortisol in the morning which helps us wake up. The level should then lower gradually throughout the day, as you get into the late afternoon and early evening. The problem with so much of today’s society is that cortisol remains high right up to bed time, and is the main reason why you struggle to fall asleep. People watch television too late, use laptops in bed, drink alcohol in the evening, and they don’t respect that their body needs to relax and unwind ready for the next day. At the end of this section, you will learn how to rectify an upside down circadian rhythm.
- Insulin is the major hormone that controls your blood sugar levels. Lack of sleep is one way to experience the powerful effects of imbalanced blood sugar levels. As you get less sleep, your blood sugar levels will rise. When your blood sugar levels are high, your body produces insulin. It is important to know that Insulin is also known as the fat storage hormone. When you don’t use the blood sugar that is produced for energy, it has a very high chance of being stored as body fat.
How can I fix my sleep?
If you struggle to wind down, use magnesium glycinate. Magnesium in the gly- cinate form will relax you, it will relax your muscles, and it will help you drift off to sleep. Take 100 mg at 6 pm, 100 mg at 7.30 pm, and 100 mg at 9 pm.
- Avoid coffee and other stimulants after 1 pm.
- Fill in a grateful log. Before you go to bed, acknowledge 5 great things that you’ve either had done to you or you’ve done for someone else.
- Get into a routine, go to bed at the same time every night to ensure you get at least 7 – 8 hours sleep.
- Take a warm bath half an hour before bed (try adding 250 grams of Epsom salts into your bath and soak for 20 minutes).
- Turn off ashing clocks and television lights.
- Fit black out blinds in your room, your bedroom should be dark like a bat cave. Remember your need for melatonin production.
We see many people who admit to having sleep issues after completing our questionnaire. When we fix poor sleep patterns, we not only see body fat come down, we see mood increase, energy levels increase, and an increase in performance in the gym.
As always, if you want any help or advice please complete the contact form below or click here to get started and we would be happy to help!