Did you know that sleep is critical to becoming a pro-fat burner? Truly, it is an important piece of the fat burning puzzle and has significant effects on almost every aspect of life. That is why the ladies in my FASTer Way to Fat Loss program will be focusing on sleep quantity and quality during the program.
Sleep hasn’t always come easy for me. I have struggled for years to both fall asleep and stay asleep. I have tried countless things to sleep better and have come up with some strategies that really work! Before I get into those, here are a few reasons it is important to focus on sleep.
Lower Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is your body’s stress hormone. When your cortisol levels are high, your body stores fat. According to recent research, not getting enough sleep can raise cortisol levels in the afternoon and evening, making sleep difficult.
When you are sleep deprived, your willpower is depleted. This means that you are more likely to stray from foods that fuel your body well and reach for the donuts instead. Sleep deprivation alters your overall judgement and can often put you in compromising situations when you’re trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle.
Regulated Hunger Hormones
When you’re not sleeping, your hunger hormones (ghrelin and leptin) get all out of whack. Ghrelin signals to your brain when it’s time to eat. Your body produces more ghrelin when you are sleep deprived, which means you feel hungry more often. Leptin is your satiation hormone, and lets your body know that you’ve eaten enough. Your leptin levels are significantly decreased when you are not sleeping well. So, you are always hungry, don’t ever really feel full and have depleted willpower…
…hello donut binges??!?!!
Decreased Sensitivity to Insulin
After just a few days of insufficient sleep, your body will struggle to process insulin, the hormone responsible for changing sugar and starches into energy. When your insulin sensitivity is out of whack, you are going to store fat.
TIPS TO SLEEP BETTER…
These are things that I have researched and personally tried, so can attest to their effectiveness. I highly recommend you try some of these strategies to optimize your sleep patterns.
Be sure your bedroom is nice and cool
You sleep better when it’s cool. Your body has natural signals that let it know when it is time to wind down and go to sleep. A decrease in temperature is one of those signals. Ensuring that your room is cool will help your body know it’s time to wind down.
This is kind of a no brainer, but one of the most common things I hear from women going through my FASTer Way to Fat Loss program is that they are sleeping better. For many, this is because they are truly cleaning up their diet. Eating processed junk right before bedtime will keep your digestive system working incredibly hard throughout the night and make good sleep hard to achieve.
Getting Vitamin D
Interaction with natural light causes your body to produce melatonin, which is critical in regulating your sleep cycles. Many people use a melatonin supplement, but a better first line of defense is to get out in the sun for about 20 minutes each morning. Vitamin D helps your body naturally produce its own melatonin, making a supplement unnecessary. If you can’t get out in the sun, or are still struggling to sleep, then you might consider adding in a melatonin supplement.
Go Screen Free
The blue light from our computers and phones suppresses the production of melatonin and can make it difficult for our brains to shut down when it’s time for bed. I shut off my devices at least one hour before bed. I have recently purchased a pair of blue light reducing glasses to decrease the blue light effect on my hormone levels.
Keep Your Room Pitch Black
Light is another signal to your body that it’s time for bed. Be sure that your bedroom is completely dark. This will let your body know it’s time for bed and make falling asleep a whole lot easier!
Exercise at Least 4 Hours Prior to Bed
Exercise increases several hormone levels. Doing it too close to bedtime can make falling asleep incredibly difficult. Be sure that you are leaving at least 4 hours between when you finish your workout and going to bed. This will give those hormones the opportunity to level out so you are better able to sleep.
Sleeping 7-9 hours per night is absolutely critical to burning fat, increasing your energy levels and feeling your absolute best. If you are struggling to sleep, do your best to set up a nightly routine that works for you. Try implementing some of these strategies to optimize your sleep each night. For me, this has made a huge difference in the way I feel, my overall productivity, and my body’s ability to burn fat!