There is so much buzz about sleep at the moment. We have heard headlines claiming sleep is the new sex and that it’s the new status symbol, but why? According to research, sleep helps keep us in shape. We did some research and spoke to our resident psychologist to find out more about the relationship between the two. Here’s the low down:
Feeling tired? Your fat cells do too. They suffer from what the University of Chicago calls “metabolic grogginess,” when your body’s ability to adequately use insulin becomes disrupted, leading to your body storing fat in all the wrong places. Lack of sleep also has an impact of the two hormones that control hunger. They stimulate hunger (make your stomach feel empty) and impact the amount of calories you burn (and therefore increasing the amount of fat you store).
Sleep is also linked to stress, and stress to appetite and emotional eating via increased levels of cortisol which activates reward centres in your brain that make you want food. Feeling tired means you have less ability to make good decisions.
Research published in Psychoneuroendocrinology found that sleep deprivation makes you select greater portion sizes..
And if all that wasn’t enough, feeling tired will sabotage that 6am yoga class before work!
We spoke to our resident psychologist who gave us some tips to get the sleep that will help you stay healthy and keep in shape.
- Get regular: Have a set bed time and awake time and try not to oversleep too much on the weekends. After a few weeks of the same routine, getting to sleep at night and out of bed in the morning will be like clockwork!
- Don’t work past 8pm: Engage in quiet and unstimulating activities in the hour before you want to go to sleep so you don’t rev-up your brain!
- Avoid screen time before bed: Try to resist the allure of your smart phone, laptop and TV prior to bedtime. This is not the time for checking Instagram! The light emitted from these devices tricks your brain into believing it is daytime and prevents the release of melatonin, the sleep inducing hormone.
- Warm bath or shower: Consider making this part of your pre-bed ritual. Raising the body temperature and then allowing it to cool can facilitate sleep.
- Post-pone your worrying: You are alone with your thoughts for the first time all day. This is when we notice how busy our mind actually is. Have a notebook next to your bed and write down the issues you want to problem-solve in the morning. Alternatively, imagine putting your worry onto a cloud and watch it drift past.
- Smiling Mind: A great app for helping you to settle an active mind at night. Set the timer and drift off slowly.
- Lighting: Minimise screens and other bright lights a few hours before its bed time. Set the mood and start dimming the lighting.
- Pre-bed ritual: establish a consistent routine prior to bed. For example, warm tea, yoga, brush teeth, wash face, jump into bed, read and lights out. Your individual ritual will prime your body and mind to start preparing for sleep.
- Daytime factors: Choices you make during the day will impact your sleep at night, for better or worse. Minimise your caffeine intake after 4pm. When it comes to alcohol, a ‘night-cap’ might send you off to sleep quickly but it will reduce the quality of your sleep. Introduce some moderate to vigorous physical activity into your day to make yourself physically tired. Avoid large meals close to bedtime or late night sugary snacks.
Source of research: http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/why-sleep-no-1-most-important