Sleep is a very important component to hormonal balance, muscle building and fat loss. As a matter of fact, sleep is essential to life, just as water and food are. The old adage of needing seven or eight hours of sound, undisturbed sleep per night is very true.
A lack of sleep increases inflammation in the body which in turn increases both cortisol and insulin, leading to increased mid-section fat deposits, and insulin resistance.
If that wasn’t bad enough, sleep deprivation also lowers testosterone, DHEA and growth hormone, all important hormones involved in building muscle and burning fat.
Your body also does all of its repairing while you sleep. The muscles you stimulate during a workout do all of their growing and recuperating during deep, dark, restful sleep. Why dark sleep? This is beneficial due to the relationship between nature’s light and dark cycles and our immune and metabolic energy systems.
Our skin contains thousands of photoelectric cryptochrome cells. These cells interpret the amount of light photons we are exposed to, which in turn control the hormones prolactin, melatonin, and HGH (human growth hormone). These hormones are responsible for proper health, vitality and maintaining good body composition.
Melatonin is our most potent antioxidant source, which is our passport to remaining cancer free. Growth hormone, one of the body’s master hormones, is responsible for strengthening bones, building muscle, decreasing body fat, and boosting the immune system. This means no clocks, nightlights, or flashing VCRs in your bedroom as they can all disrupt this important process.
Sleep is also important when it comes to fat loss. In a recent Nurses’ Health Study, researchers tracked more than 68,000 women for 16 years. These women were asked to report their weight and lifestyle regimen every two years. By the end of the study, the women who slept five hours each night were 32 percent more likely to experience major weight gain—defined as an increase of 33 pounds or more—and 15 percent more likely to become obese, compared with women who slept seven hours. And women who slept for six hours were 12 percent more likely to experience major weight gain and 6 percent more likely to become obese over the study period compared with women who slept seven hours a night.
In order to have optimum recovery of all of your bodily systems, you should follow these sleep guidelines:
1. Go to sleep early in the dark cycle each night and avoid staying up too late.
2. Buy the best mattress you can afford (and don’t skimp on the bedding either). The wrong mattress can disrupt your sleep and even cause muscle and joint pain.
3.Do not consume excess calories.
4.Go to bed at the same time every night.
5.Reduce stress and do not watch television in bed as studies have shown this to increase stress. Reserve the bedroom for sleep and intimacy.
6.Avoid caffeinated beverages after the early morning.
7.Ensure that daily vitamin and mineral intake is adequate.
8.Go to sleep in complete darkness. Block out all light from extraneous sources like street lamps, clock radios, alarm clocks, etc. Light can also interfere with melatonin secretion.
9.Keep your bedroom cool (but not cold). Your bedroom temperature should be about 70 F. Sleep in the nude to keep body cool.
10.Keep pets and kids out of your bed as they often disrupt sleep.
11.Get seven or eight hours of sleep each night.
12.Take a warm bath about 2 hours prior to bedtime. Add Epsom salts to improve detoxification and relax your muscles.
13.Keep interior lights of your home dim in the evening to prepare your body for sleep.
14.Use a white noise device to drown out outside noise from neighbors or a busy street.
15. Journal your thoughts of gratitude as well as your goals in the evening. This will help calm your mind and improve your ability to fall asleep.