By Pip Hunt
“You can sleep when you’re dead.” How many times have we all been told this? Whether it’s a night out on the town, an early morning adventure, or taking a day off to relax, Jackson isn’t a town that condones taking it easy. It’s a wonder we’re not all walking around like zombies. But the truth is sleep does matter. It matters to our energy levels; it affects what we eat, how we act, how we perform and how we recover in the gym.
If you are going to change one thing about your lifestyle, I encourage you to look at your sleep patterns before you look at anything else.
Why is sleep so important?
- Sleep affects how and what we eat – Leptin, the hormone that is released by fat cells that signals satiety and tells our brains that we are full, is dependent on sleep duration. When sleep deprivation makes your Leptin levels low, your body up-regulates the production of Ghrelin. Ghrelin stimulates hunger. This means that sleep deprivation signals a “famine response” in you body, even when your caloric intake is high if you are sleep deprived. We end up eating more (and usually more sugary foods) when we are tired.
- Sleep affects how stressed our bodies are. – Cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone, is secreted by your adrenal glands. While you do need Cortisol to maintain homeostasis in your body, constantly stressing your body will throw the balance off. Your body recognizes stress as: a lack of sleep, mental stress, physical stress from playing (or training) too hard, and even a poor diet. Increased Cortisol levels will in turn a host of other problems like:
– Insulin sensitivity or a “pre-diabetic” state. Ever wonder why you crave sugar more after a night of poor sleep? This is why.
– Disrupted sleep patterns. Cortisol is expressed during the morning, which signals your body to wake up. However, disrupted Cortisol levels are usually highest in the evening, which can either inhibit you from falling asleep, or wake up you in the middle of the night.
– Elevated Cortisol levels can also inhibit your immune system. Cortisol can block the transportation of T-cells, which communicate with Interleukins to create a cellular immune response. This means that people with elevated Cortisol levels can get sick more often.
- Sleep affects how effectively we can recover from a day in the mountains or at the gym.
– Growth Hormone is secreted while you are sleeping, and is excellent at repairing damaged tissue. If you impair your sleep, and impair your bodies ability to repair itself.
– We create a higher level of inflammation in our bodies when we are sleep deprived. This higher level of inflammation can lead to poor performance because we are fatigued and sore from the previous session.
- Tired? Crazy? Feel like crying? Ok, maybe that last one is just for the ladies, but seriously, Go the F*** to sleep!
Tips for helping you get a better night’s sleep:
1. Give yourself a bedtime that ensures you will get 8 hours of sleep per night, and stick with it!
2. Turn off all screens, TV, laptop, maybe even you’re smartphone 1 to ½ hour before you hit the pillow. The blue light from the screens can disrupt our circadian rhythms.
3. Make sure you have adequate levels of Magnesium.
4. Get at least one hour of daylight (like outside daylight) each day.
5. Avoid caffeinated drinks in the afternoon, even if you think they don’t affect you.
6. Sleep in a completely dark room. Block out light from outside with dark curtains, and turn off all lights!
The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Hormones and Metabolism http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/502825
“The Psychology of Stress: Cortisol and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis”
“How Light Affects Sleep” – http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-light-affects-our-sleep/#axzz2kRjkku5K