Sleep Your Way to Skinny

| by Mitzi Dulan

We all take things for granted, but not getting enough sleep should not be one of them. Getting in those needed 7-8 hours of sleep each day may seem like a daunting task, but there is a big correlation between the amount of sleep you get and your health. Sleeping an adequate amount of hours each night is essential for concentration, memory formation, repairing damaged body cells, and reducing the risk of developing certain diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

When you sleep your body releases hormones to help rebuild and repair cells that have been damaged throughout the day. A good night’s sleep can also decrease levels of stress hormones, blood pressure, and inflammation in the body. High levels of inflammatory markers are linked with heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

For those of us fighting the battle of the bulge, adequate sleep each night can actually help to control body weight! Sleep helps to control and regulate the hormones that affect appetite. Without proper sleep, this hormonal balance is interrupted and you appetite can increase. This increase in hunger for a lot of would be satisfied by eating comfort foods high is sugar and fat rather than healthier options such as fruits and vegetables. Another bonus to weight control and sleep: when you are sleeping you are NOT eating!

When we don’t get enough sleep and are constantly stressed high levels of a hormone called cortisol is released. In a state of stress, cortisol is released causing a state of inflammation and can make it more difficult to fall asleep and reap the benefits of sleep.

Some other affects of elevated cortisol levels at nighttime are:

• Fat storage and weight gain
• Reduced growth hormone production
• Decreased immunity
• Promotion of inflammation
• Decrease in short-term memory
• Decreased muscle tone

Getting enough sleep each night is invaluable and should be a high priority on everyone’s list. The health benefits are numerous and can be your ticket to living a healthier life. Some ways to help you achieve an earlier bedtime and reduce stress are:

• Prioritize your day, complete important tasks earlier in the day
• Exercise, it is a great way to reduce stress
• Eat less processed foods and more natural, wholesome foods
• Relax at night by spending time with friends and family instead of stressing about work
• Try not to eat after 7:30 PM
• Wear an eyemask
• Listen to soothing music
• Use a fan
• Recognize your sources of stress
• Take a warm bath

What helps you fall asleep?