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It's been a while since I wrote a post on the importance of sleep, but it's been on my mind lately because I've been sleeping like a baby this week!
We finally got black-out curtains in our condo! Now you might be saying "but Joy, I love to wake up with the sunshine". While it's nice to wake up to the sunshine, when you live in a big city, blackout curtains are a necessity because city lights are not pleasant at 2am.
Prior to these black-out curtains, as soon as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see my handsome man beside me from the bright city lights. While I love to look at his pretty face, I would rather not be able to see ANYTHING when I'm trying to get some shut-eye so my magical hormones can come out and do their work (ie. keep me trim, prevent premature aging, keep my appetite hormones in check, and ensure hormonal harmony).
That brings me to your fat-loss friend named melatonin ...
Melatonin will NOT secrete when there is any amount of light source. When you don't release melatonin, you also fail to release growth hormone which helps to repair your bone, skin and muscle cells. This is why it's called "beauty sleep".
Despite what we know about the importance of sleep, there are still many sleep deprived individuals. According to a study by Wake University who tracked participants for five years, those who were sleep deprived ate more, used less energy (burned fewer calories) because they were tired and craved more unhealthy foods.
Getting too much sleep (over 8+ hours) is not good for us either. I went to bed the other night at 10:30pm and because it was so dark I slept until nearly 8:00am! I felt a bit groggy. Funny thing is, I woke up at 5:30am feeling bright as a button but saw the time and decided to laze in bed longer. However, tomorrow, I will get my butt up no matter what time it is if I feel rested and I've had at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
Now that you know the importance of sleep, here are my top nutrition & lifestyle tips to get a good night's sleep:
Avoid eating late in the evening.
If you have a job where you work late, then make sure you take snacks to work so you avoid eating right before bed when you arrive home.
Eating before bed also raises your body temperature which interferes with the release of melatonin and growth hormone and in turn interfering with weight loss.
If you must eat late, makes sure your snack includes protein and complex carbs. An example of this would be a smoothie with a plant-based protein powder and some dark berries; something that's easy to digest and blood sugar balancing or have some almond butter on sliced apple sprinkled with cinnamon.
Protein provides a source of the amino acid, tryptophan. The body converts tryptophan to serotonin and melatonin, hormones that are important for sleep. The sugars from the fruit may help the tryptophan reach the brain more easily.
Avoid bedtime snacks that are high in sugar or simple carbohydrates
Bread, cereals, muffins, cookies or other baked goods raise blood sugar levels for a short time, causing them to fall later. When there is a drop in blood sugar, adrenaline, glucagon, cortisol and growth hormone are released to regulate blood glucose levels. These hormones are stimulating to the brain causing you to awaken and to experience difficulties falling back asleep.
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption*
There is a really big misconception that seems to be widely accepted: Alcohol makes one sleepy. This couldn't be further from the truth.
Although alcohol makes you dopey and drowsy, the effect is short-lived. The body metabolizes alcohol as you sleep, resulting in symptoms which can cause sleep interruption. Alcohol also may cause sleep disorders because it seems to affect the brain chemicals that affect sleep. Additionally, alcohol creates blood sugar imbalance leading to the same issues as mentioned above.
Specifically, alcohol affects the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, total sleep time and the deeper stages of sleep where the body does most of its healing.
*One glass of wine with dinner will most likely not affect your sleep since it takes about 90 minutes to metabolize one ounce of alcohol. However, one ounce within two hours of bedtime or amounts greater than one ounce may disrupt your sleep.
Get yourself some blackout curtains and if you have to go to the bathroom during the night, it is best not to turn on the light. Turning on the light, even for just a second, shuts down melatonin production and can contribute to fatigue or insomnia.
This black square is a photo I Instagrammed showing the darkness in my bedroom. You can't even see your hand in front of your face now. Woohooo!
If you want more information, here are 3 youtube videos on tips to help you get a good night's sleep!
Night, night :)