Sleep is greatly underestimated when it comes to health and weight loss. There are so many bodily processes that go on when we sleep that to rejuvenate us. Inadequate sleep is a common place; it is a worldwide epidemic, especially in industrialised nations. We're a world of workaholics. Most of us have to work for a living and the boss sets the hours, we just try to cram in a life around the work day. Work and stress are huge factors that affect our sleep, but they’re not the only reason.

Why am I not sleeping? I want to sleep; I just lay there and can’t switch off.

Inadequate sleep can be caused by a multitude of things; a common one is excess secretion of the stress hormone cortisol due to a drop in blood sugar in the night. Poor blood sugar regulation by the body due to insulin resistance means the body cannot keep blood sugar at a safe level for the brain, the brain needs a certain amount of glucose to operate, when this level drops to low the brain needs to correct this quickly so cortisol is released which stimulates the liver to release sugar into the blood to bring up the level. It just happens that cortisol is also the hormone which wakes us up in the morning, hence you wake up at sleeping worker3am and you just can’t fall back to sleep afterwards, excess cortisol also leads to belly fat accumulation, and systemic inflammation. If you're working out hard every day on top of the poor sleep, your cortisol problem is being compounded. Eating clean and exercising can mitigate a whole lot of problems, but it can't solve them all. In the end, lack of sleep will always catch up to you. Maintaining a stable, circadian rhythm allows for a stable sleep schedule, which in turn promotes a strong immune system, steady energy levels, productive workouts, and a lower risk of degenerative diseases.

Is it day or night?

Our relationship with light is all mixed up, most of us don't get enough sun light during the day, and we get too much at night with artificial light, T.V., computers etc. I am simplifying it a little and it's probably a bit more complicated than that, but it basically boils down to misaligned light exposure. The problem with messed up exposure is that it resets the cycle and throws your body clock off. You get too little light during the day, and it affects the rest of your day; too much at night, and you restart your cycle. If your body thinks its night during the day, or day during the night, things will get a bit strange. It really is in your best interest to get adequate sleep at the right time.

So what can I do?

Make diet and lifestyle changes to improve blood sugar regulation
Eat some starchy carbs with supper (Yam, sweet potato, rice).
Stop over exercising.
Limit electronics usage in the evening.
Cover up alarms and clocks in the bedroom to stop light exposure.
Sleep in pitch black – use black out curtains
Get outside, especially in the morning and afternoon.
Go to bed earlier; get 8+ hrs of good sleep
Take an Adrenal Stress Indicators test to find out your circadian rhythm.

A lot of people nap in the day and think this makes up for lost sleep at night, well it doesn’t! You can not break up the sleep cycle in to segments and expect the same results, sleep has to be unbroken for the REM cycles to go full term and for the bodies systems to reset.

Yours in Health,

Richard.

2016-01-25 20:27:02