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Sleep and Hormones

Today’s lifestyles tend to be filled with a mad rush of activity. We all have goals that we want to accomplish, we all have busy social lives, and we all have jobs that need to be done. It always seems there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.

Many of us choose to steal time from our sleep in order to accomplish everything else that needs to be done. Somehow, it’s even become a sign of strength and vigour to be able to “get by” on four hours of sleep a night. Perhaps it’s because sleep is sometimes regarded as a lazy, unproductive way to spend time? Naps are for babies, right? Only little kids need lots of sleep, us big grown up people don’t need that anymore. Or do we?

When we run our 50 day challenge at our Calgary bootcamp, we see a lot of people writing down weight loss as their goal. It’s almost unheard of to see someone writing down that their goal is to get enough sleep, yet getting enough sleep is going to help a lot with the other goal of losing weight.

How can sleep help with weight loss? Don’t we burn more calories awake and moving around? Isn’t weight loss about burning calories?

While burning calories and controlling caloric intake is a very important part of weight loss, recovery and repair must also take place, and our hormones must be in balance. Sleeping enough will take care of both of those pieces and help you with not only a weight loss goal, but also with everyday living.

The body uses the time sleeping to not only repair and recover from exercise, but also to balance out your hormones. Anyone who has read our 50 day Challenge Meal Plan knows that we’re pretty aware of hormonal influences at our bootcamp. Hormones control your metabolism.

During sleep, your body will regulate and balance the levels of leptin, ghrelin, cortisol, and HGH.

Leptin and Ghrelin are two sides of the same metabolic switch. Leptin is known as the satiety hormone, as higher levels of it send a signal to your body that it has enough resources. Adequate leptin levels mean fewer cravings and better energy regulation. Ghrelin is the opposite. Too much ghrelin will send a signal to your body that you need resources and you need to conserve what you have and get. It promotes cravings and fat storage. During sleep, leptin levels rise but they do so slowly so if you’re short on sleep you will be waking up with low leptin levels. Ghrelin levels drop during sleep, as your body recovers from the days physical challenges. Not enough sleep means high ghrelin levels. There are numerous studies out there that link low leptin and high ghrelin levels to increased body mass.

Cortisol and HGH are two other hormones that are important for repair and recovery. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone, and its presence in the body can be both good and bad. HGH is human growth hormone and it is very important for building muscle and burning fat. Sleep helps lower levels of cortisol and raise levels of HGH.

Sleep is so important to prioritize, not only if you are undertaking a 50 day Challenge at our bootcamp, have a weight loss goal, are training for a race, but also just for all around functionality in every area of your life. More and more studies are emerging that show that a healthy sleep routine increases quality of life in every area.

Support your sleep by creating a sleep environment. Remove electronics from your bedroom and stay off of computers or screens for at least 30 minutes before bed. Screens emit a type of light that actually can make it harder for you to sleep. A small, light snack can also help you sleep better. Alcohol is not your friend when it comes to sleep. You may fall asleep easily after a couple of glasses of wine but your overall sleep quality will suffer greatly and you will not stay asleep as well or as long. If you tend to read in bed, move your reading to another room and leave your bed just for sleep. Taking small steps like this will help develop your sleep environment and you will find it easier to fall asleep, get a deeper and more restful sleep, and wake up ready to take on the world.

Always here to inspire and motivate you, The Vitality Fitness Team.