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Sleep more for fat loss

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If you're not seeing the fat loss results from your diet and workouts, think of sleeping! Find out how more quality sleep can help you succeed. Katherine Helen Watkins gives us some great information regarding sleep and how sleep affects our fat loss goals.

So why is sleep so important for fat loss?

When you sleep less, you take in more calories!

  • Lack of sleep decreases your levels of leptin, a hormone produced in fat cells, which signals to the brain when you are full. When you have low levels of leptin, you won't feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes levels of another hormone called grehlin to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, creating the desire to eat more. Combined, these effects on leptin and grehlin can lead to overeating, and subsequent weight gain
  • Poor sleep also causes your body to produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn spurs your appetite. High cortisol levels are associated with weight gain, paticularly around the midsection.
  • Sleep deprivation leads to changes in glucose metabolism which will cause your body to store the calories you consume as fat rather than burning them for energy.

When you sleep less, you burn less fat!

  • A sleep-deprived body burns fewer calories than a well-rested one. The body burns more calories during REM sleep than at any other time. Our body experiences longer periods of REM sleep as we move further into our sleep cycle over the course of a night. So by not sleeping enough you are cheating your body of the REM sleep that is prime calorie-burning time. Research shows that even if people still manage to lose weight whilst sleeping less, they are still losing less fat (and more muscle mass).
  • Poor sleep leads to increased inflammation which makes it more difficult to burn fat
  • Exercise performance will be reduced due to lack of energy, leading to less fat burning

Are you sleep-deprived?

A lot of us are sleep deprived without even knowing it. Researchers say that 7 hours' sleep is the very minimum you need to be healthy and well-functioning (except for the very young and the elderly). Besides looking at the numbers, ask yourself these questions to find out if you might be sleep-deprived.

  • Are you drowsy during the day, especially the morning and/or around 4 pm?
  • Do you rely on coffee to get going in the mornings?
  • Do you suffer from sugar cravings, especially in the late afternoon
  • Do you fall asleep exhausted in just a couple of minutes at night, or alternatively lie awake for a long time before you fall asleep?
  • Are you tired in the evening only to have a second wind just before bedtime?
  • Do you you often wake up in the night to go to bathroom (or for any other reason?)

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may not be getting enough good quality sleep and your waistline may be suffering as a result!

Fix your sleep and prime your body for maximum fat loss!

Here are a few of my strategies to fix your sleep and turn your body into a fat-burning machine.

  • Keep a gratitude log. This will create a positive and relaxed state of mind before you go to bed. Before you go so sleep, write down what you are thankful for; what did you learn and what goals did you meet for the day?
  • Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night
  • Increase your exercise level, but try not to exercise within 3 hours of bedtime
  • Don't ingest caffeine or alcohol near your bedtime - caffeine can keep you awake and alcohol can disrupt the normal stages of your sleep
  • Do some light stretching in the evenings to calm down an overly excited nervous system
  • Minimize electrical fields around your bed when you sleep by turning off and unplugging all electronics
  • Keep the clock away from your view. If you have difficulty falling asleep, watching the clock will only make it worse!
  • Sleep in as close to total blackness as possible using blackout blinds or a sleep mask if necessary. Even the smallest amount of light can disrupt your circadian rhythms and throw all those important fat burning hormones out of whack
  • Take a quality magnesium supplement or have an epsom salt bath to put you into a relaxed state
  • Utilize some of nature's most calming ingredients to help you nod off. Valerian root, Californian poppy, passion flower, l-theanine and lemon balm are particularly known for their positive effects on insomnia anxiety and stress
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