Lack of Sleep kills MetabolismEven healthy people with a good metabolism are affected in many ways by poor sleep:
- Increases body fat
- Messes up hormones
- Increases hunger
- Accelerates the ageing process
- Reduces energy levels
- Reduces cognitive performance
Most people do not know they are having this problem.
Their only clue may me a grumpy mood first thing in the morning, and their solution is usually getting their coffee for a caffeine fix.
Sometimes we know we have not had enough sleep after a late night out or watching a late TV show, studying for a test, working on a presentation for the boss, or worrying about stressful events.
We think we can "make it up tomorrow night" or have a cat-nap in the afternoon.
Sleep is just as important as exercise for our health, and this is why:
Insufficient Sleep makes us FATInsufficient sleep increases hunger and skyrockets cravings for the worst foods possible. A Public Library of Science study shows why:
Leptin hormone levels drop by 15% when we do not get enough sleep. Leptin is the hormone that tells us "I have had enough to eat".
Ghrelin hormone levels increase by 15% when we do not get enough sleep. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells us "I am hungry".
So we either raid the fridge in the middle of the night or wake up in the morning binging on whatever we can quickly find, often junk foods or leftovers which are bad for our health.
This becomes habit-forming, so we tend to get addicted to high-carb foods (the worst) as the body instinctively knows that high carbs equals fastest fix for hunger.
Leptin Clobbers the ThyroidWhen leptin levels drop, our thyroid hormone also drops, impacting our metabolism.
Metabolism is the body's ability to burn carbs at rest.
So we are now full of carbs and have poor fat-burning metabolism.
The body's reaction is to store all of this spare energy as body fat - first in the liver (the worst place), then around the body.
Leptin helps us burn fat while we sleep, so keeping leptin high is the best way to slim down.
Insulin - the Fat Storage HormoneInsufficient sleep reduces insulin sensitivity.
This means the pancreas has to produce more insulin the be able to clear excess glucose from the blood.
Even worse, there is even more glucose in the blood from a high-carb fast-food diet.
Higher insulin tells the liver to turn carbs into fat, and also locks up fat inside cells, preventing the fat-burning process.
Cortisol - the Stress HormoneInsufficient sleep increases cortisol, our stress hormone, also known as the "Fight or Flight" hormone.
Cortisol rises every morning as part of the waking-up process, which is normal. However, a high-stress life causes permanent cortisol elevations. Permanently high cortisol results in increased belly fat, higher blood pressure, poor circulation, poor digestion and poor immunity.
We need Sleep to ThinkReduced sleep means poor cognitive function, bad mood, reduced motor control, slower reflexes and other brain dysfunctions. Driving a car under the influence of inadequate sleep is just as dangerous as when impaired with alcohol.
During sleep, our brain flushes out neurotoxins that are generated by the day's activities. Accumulation of these toxins results in brain inflammation, oxidative stress, bad memory, moods and issues with focusing. Risk of dementia problems such as Alzheimer's Disease is increased.
Sleep keeps us YoungHGH (Human Growth Hormone) is built by the body while we sleep, repairing and rebuilding the body after a hard day. Low HGH makes our skin dry wrinkled, our muscles wasted, and increases fat retention.
Sleep Prevents CancerSleep affects almost every hormone in the body, and melatonin, one of the most important for sleep, is also important for the prevention and cure of cancer. More about melatonin below.
Speaking from ExperienceLeanMachine ran a computer and internet business for 30 years.
In that time, weight ballooned to over 107 kg, a belly hung over a 107 cm waist, energy levels dropped, and high-stress was an normal everyday event.
33 people on the payroll caused more problems than they were worth, and customers who could not wait meant working 7 days a week, every night until after midnight.
And up again at 5 am the next day to repeat the process.
When a major problem occurred, such as a problem with a file server, a customer could have 3,000 employees standing around with all production stopped until the problem was resolved. To say there was a lot of pressure and stress in these situations was certainly an understatement, and I often worked through the night, sometimes going 40 hours or more without sleep.
I tried to get a couple of hours sleep the next few nights but this never seemed to eventuate.
Living and working on the same premises meant I did not have the opportunity to relax "on the way home" as this took about 2 seconds to walk through a door from the office to the house.
I think it is a miracle I survived this process. After selling (giving away) the business I was very sick, had black rings around the eyes, obese and took a long time to recover.
I was then aged 52, and once I started to get better sleep, I lost 10 kg and felt much better.
However, my true transformation into the "LeanMachine" did not happen until I was 63, dropping from 100kg to 74 kg, but that's a story for another day...
How to get more sleepAvoid any caffeine-containing drinks after noon, as it takes several hours to dissipate through the system.
One coffee a day should be the limit for most of us anyway, but that's another story for another day...
If we go to bed earlier but have trouble falling asleep, try it in stages.
Instead of hitting the sack an hour earlier tonight, try just 15 minutes for the first week.
Build up by an extra 15 minutes the next week and keep going until we get 7 to 9 hours every night.
This gives our body clock (circadian rhythm) time to adjust to new sleeping patterns.
Avoid bright lights or stimulating activities for 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime, and keep the bedroom completely dark.
Even a small amount of light from LED lights on an alarm clock or other appliance will filter through the eyelids and stimulate the pineal gland in the brain.
If it is not practical to completely darken the room, use an eye-mask to eliminate any light from entering the eyes.
No TV, internet, etc, but reading a good book under a small book-reading light may help.
Meditation can also help de-activate the buzz in the brain from the stress of the day.
Light exercise like yoga or tia-chi may help, but avoid strenuous exercise before bed.
Eat nothing for minimum 3 hours before bed time, otherwise we reduce our fat-burning potential.
Drink nothing for 2 hours before bed time as we don't want to disturb sleep by having a full bladder in the middle of the night.
Sleep MedicationSleep medications such as Stilnox can have devastating side-effects.
Common problems are people sleepwalking, driving and crashing cars, fighting, binge eating, all while technically asleep.
Even if we do manage to stay in bed all night, obviously this type of sleep is not restful or beneficial.
MelatoninMelatonin is a natural hormone that helps us fall asleep, as well as help protect us from cancer.
However, research on synthetic melatonin supplements, either made in the lab or from cow urine is disappointing. Synthetic melatonin can help sleep-phase cycles slightly, such as jet lag or other situations when our sleep cycles get messed up. Side effects of synthetic melatonin include stunted growth among younger people, dizziness, headaches and more. Studies on people with high levels of natural melatonin prove they get much better sleep. Studies also show that as we age, our natural melatonin drops, leading to more sleep problems among seniors. Melatonin production is from the pineal gland, stimulated by lower light as the sun sets, and this has worked well for nearly two million years of man's presence on Earth. But in today's age of artificial lighting, TV, computers, phones, working night shifts, noisy neighbours or traffic, the body simply cannot respond in the manner it was designed to do.
Natural Foods Provide MelatoninSome foods raise natural melatonin blood levels and improve sleep.
The Khon Kaen University on Thailand found that melatonin levels can be raised naturally by some tropical fruits.
The study analysed urine levels of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (also known as aMT6s), which relates to blood melatonin levels.
- Pineapples increased levels by 266%
- Bananas increased levels by 180%
- Oranges increased levels by 47%
Supplements that may help
A good night's sleep every night will increase metabolism, reduce body fat, clarify thinking, increase muscles, keep us looking and feeling younger, and the cost? Nothing!
Natural supplements may help, but a healthy diet combined with the suggestions above can do wonders for health.
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DisclaimerLeanMachine is not a doctor, and everyone should consult with their own health professional before taking any product to ensure there is no conflict with existing prescription medication.
LeanMachine has been studying nutrition and health since 2011 and has completed many relevant studies including:
Open2Study, Australia - Food, Nutrition and Your Health
RMIT University, Australia - Foundations of Psychology
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia - Chemistry - Building Blocks of the World
University of Washington, USA - Energy, Diet and Weight
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Health Issues for Aging Populations
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - International Nutrition
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Methods in Biostatistics I
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Methods in Biostatistics II
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Principles of Human Nutrition
TUFTS University, USA - Nutrition and Medicine
TUFTS University, USA - Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease I and Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease II
Technical Learning College, USA - Western Herbology, Identification, Formulas
Bath University, England - Inside Cancer
WebMD Education - The Link Between Stroke and Atrial Fibrillation
Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands - Anatomy of the Abdomen and Pelvis
LeanMachine has now read thousands of studies, journals and reports related to health and nutrition and this research is ongoing.
Updated 11th December 2016, Copyright © 1999-2017 Brenton Wight and BJ & HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285