We live in a world where hearing the phrase “I wish there were more hours in the day” is all too common. Work, family and social commitments mean many of us are constantly on the go and looking after others. But what about you and your health?
Getting enough sleep each night is a key factor in weight management and fat loss. A lack of sleep results in increased inflammation in your body, which increases your levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and reduces your sensitivity to insulin leading to fat storage. So, what can you do if you have trouble sleeping or just can’t switch off at night?
Take a read of my top tips for getting a good night’s sleep:
Pick a regular bed time and follow it…even on weekends! – A regular bed time not only establishes a habit, it also allows you to take advantage of your natural circadian rhythm or your sleep/wake cycle as it is also known.
Your body temperature peaks close to the time the sunsets and your satiety hormone, leptin, is released to suppress your hunger. This is followed by the sleep hormone melatonin approximately 2 hours before you go to sleep to help you wind down ready for bed.
Use cool temperatures to help you sleep – Ensure your room is well ventilated so the air is fresh and the temperature slightly on the cooler side to help improve the quality of your sleep. Warm temperatures at night interfere with your circadian rhythm.
Sleep in darkness – To get the best sleep, block all light from outside and cover or unplug devices that emit a light. Black out curtains are a great option.
Limit electronic devices use before bed – An hour before bed, limit the use of mobile phones, computers or any other devices that emit a blue light. Why? Exposure to this type of light just before bed reduces the production of melatonin, your sleep hormone.
Meal frequency – Avoid long periods of time between meals as this has been found to alter circadian rhythms and negatively impact sleep. Establish regular meal times throughout the day to help you get the best sleep.
White meat / seafood at night – Consume darker meats earlier in the day and opt for white meats or seafood in the afternoon and evening. Lighter meats stimulate the production of GABA and serotonin, which help you to relax and unwind in the later part of the day. Having a smaller portion of protein at dinner may also help your sleep.
Carbs at dinner – Yes you heard right…carbs at dinner! Having your carbs in the last meal of the day stimulates the production of serotonin, which is calming and makes you feel sleepy. They also help to lower your stress hormone, cortisol, which should be highest in the morning and drop over the course of the day. Training or working late, or dealing with ‘life’ stress later in the day causes a rise in your stress hormone leaving you anxious and awake.
Avoid caffeine after 2pm – Caffeine increases cortisol, even when had in the morning. If you are having trouble sleeping consider limiting your caffeine intake to the first half of the day.
Get more magnesium – Not getting enough sleep depletes your body’s magnesium stores. How? Poor sleep results in your body producing extra adrenaline and cortisol which causes the excretion of magnesium through the kidneys and results in low magnesium stores.
Train in the late afternoon – Between 3pm and 6pm is the ideal time to train because your body temperature is elevated and protein synthesis is at its peak. Training later in the evening is not ideal if you want to get a good sleep as it elevates cortisol levels and suppresses your sleep hormone production.
I highly recommend giving these tips a go to help you get to sleep or to improve the quality of your sleep. Getting enough zzz’s each night will help to ensure your body is working at it optimum. Always remember…“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”
Stacey Rogers – Strength Coach & Nutritionist – Shredded Strength Institute – m. 0400 855 685
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