Nutrition Tip Tuesday: Sleep

Well, hello there friend! Did you know sleep plays a crucial role in your body’s ability to absorb and use nutrients? I mean, I know you’re aware sleep is an important factor in remaining a healthy individual, but do you know to what extent? Let’s not waste any more time with small talk and dive right on into the nerdy details, shall we?

According to “The Oracle” aka Google one of the most searched topics as it relates to health was regarding “loss of sleep.” Did you know that aside from simply feeling lethargic or tired, when you don’t get adequate sleep you’re more likely to consume an average of 300 more calories than a well rested individual!?! Let that sink in….300 more calories. That could cause quite the challenge if you’re goal is to burn body fat and build lean muscle tissue. When it comes to sleep we already know what we should be doing each day: limit screen use one hour before bed, don’t eat too closely to bedtime as it could possibly interrupt sleep, minimize light and noise within your room, have a lower temperature as studies have shown a cooler room is more conducive for quality sleep, etc. But, did you realize that not getting the recommended daily allowance of 7-9hrs/night can actually make your journey of fat loss that much more challenging?

Let me explain. Your body has three main appetite related hormones–leptin (satiety), ghrelin (hunger), and insulin (“sugar master”–why yes, this is the biologically appropriate term, haha)–mind you, this is a very brief overview of these hormones as individuals have dedicated years of learning the intricate details of each of these hormones. Okay, back to the topic at hand. When you reduce the number of hours of sleep your body receives the hormone “ghrelin” has tendency to increase. What is ghrelin? Why I’m so glad you asked! Ghrelin is the hormone responsible for sending hunger cues/signals to our brains. Think of it this way, when you’re hungry your belly may or may not grumble. That is essentially the ghrelin audibly and physically letting you, and possibly those nearest you, that hey, man it’s feeding time. It is also in charge of letting your body know when it needs to conserve energy. When we don’t allow our bodies the necessary time to recover (sleep) from a long hard day, our hormones begin to get out of alignment.

Leptin, which is in charge of letting your body know when it’s satiated and thus needs to begin expending energy, is increased when we are sleeping. However, when we shortchange ourselves on sleep our leptin levels are too low and begin telling your brain, “hey we need energy; we need food”–even if you’re not actually hungry. When sleep decreases ghrelin (hunger cues & energy conservation) hormone levels become elevated and your desire to expend energy lessens.

So what’s the bottom line here? When our bodies do not get enough sleep, our leptin levels (satiety hormone) decrease. This decrease in leptin communicates to our brain we are in need or will be in need of energy (aka food). This triggers the ghrelin (hunger hormone & “energy conservationist extraordinaire”) to start grumbling and BAM we have the perfect storm for body fat storage.

Moral of the story here is simply this–strive to get between 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Sleep, while not only integral for body fat loss, is also our body’s number one way to repair, restore and reset in preparation for another day of work. We would never allow our devices’ batteries to get so low they wouldn’t work properly or at their best…so why is it okay for us? Just a ‘lil something to think about…

Until next time…

-E

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