12 Tips For Better Sleep
Struggling With Your Weight Loss??
I love sleep, in fact I could do with a nap right now!
Since becoming a dad I haven't had a full nights sleep for years.
This has taken it's toll on my body and mind.
I'm not able to recover as quickly from hard exercise and my memory is something I used to have lol.
So if I'm struggling with a lack of sleep I don't know how new mums get by.
I guess they're just made of tougher stuff than us guys.
Wait, did I really just say that
Sleep is often one of the most overlooked parts of most fitness and weight loss programs. Getting plenty of sleep is also extremely important if you are trying to gain muscle mass.
While you are sleeping the body is working hard to repair and regenerate any damaged muscles from the exercise session you may have put them through as well as 'filing and sorting' your thoughts and memories.
During our evolution we would have normally gone to sleep with the setting of the sun and awoke as the sun rose in the morning. Our body's hormones work in harmony with this sleep/wake cycle.
In the morning as the sun rises and acts upon our skin cortisol is released and activates processes that wake us up and give us the energy we need while we are awake. Serotonin, the feel good hormone, is also produced during the day.
If we followed our natural sleep/wake cycle we would start winding down as the sun starts to set. Cortisol production should naturally decline and your body's growth and repair hormones start to elevate.
As the sun sets and darkness sets in the pineal gland converts serotonin into melatonin. Melatonin production triggers the body to sleep.
Physical repair of the body takes place while you are sleeping between the hours of 10:00pm and 2:00pm. After this time the body switches to psychogenic (mental) regeneration, which lasts until we wake up the next day.
This is what should happen if we were to live by our natural circadian rhythm. However we live in a world filled with artificial light, late night TV and alternating shift patterns, all of which keep us awake in to the wee hours and preventing us from getting a good nights sleep.
This prolonged waking after dark causes your body to continue to release cortisol to keep you awake.
The trouble is it takes several hours for cortisol levels to decline enough to allow the production of melatonin and allowing you to drift into a natural deep sleep.
In effect going to bed late at night cuts into your body's regeneration cycle meaning that you never fully recover from your day-to-day activities. All this leads to increased stress and chronically elevated cortisol levels.
As mentioned, cortisol is needed by a healthy body and is part of our natural sleep/wake cycle, but if we start to cut into our sleep or take stimulants such as caffeine, live a stressful life then cortisol production increases and starts to act against us.
So if we have increased cortisol production when it should naturally be low then melatonin production will be suppressed. All this leads to a catch 22 situation.
You cannot sleep so you become stressed.
Increased stress results in increased cortisol production.
Increased cortisol suppresses melatonin leaving you tossing and turning all night and feeling totally exhausted when the alarm goes off in the morning.
And in these situations people often turn to caffeine to act as a pick me up and keep them going through the day but this only makes the problem worse.
So not only does elevated cortisol levels have a negative effect on your sleep but it also has a negative effect on your body's ability to burn fat.
High cortisol levels suppress the production of testosterone and growth hormone, two of your body's most powerful fat burning hormones.
With testosterone and growth hormone suppressed oestrogen levels start to rise. Elevated oestrogen levels can lead to mood swings, insomnia and increased fat storage around the hips, butt and backs of the arms. Think muffin tops and bingo wings.
High oestrogen levels also have a negative effect on your thyroid output. An under active thyroid or hypothyroidism results in a lower metabolic rate, which means you burn less calories on a daily basis often leading to weight gain.
So to make the most of your fat loss program you need to adopt a regular sleep/wake pattern, which will allow your body to recover and burn as much body fat as possible.
A good nights sleep allows you to wake fully refreshed and full of energy with the upside being you are less likely to make poor nutritional choices or reach for a hot cup of Joe to keep you awake.
So now that I've covered the importance of sleep for fat loss I'd like to share with you 10 Tips For Better Sleep and naturally help your body to lose unwanted fat:
Tip 1. Establish a consistent bedtime routine.
To maximise the chance of getting a good nights sleep it is important to wind down in the evening two hours before bed. Dim the lights or use candles to prevent the artificial elevation of cortisol, which prevents the release of melatonin, vital for a good nights sleep. Only use your bedroom for sleep (and sexy time, so no TV).
Tip 2. Go to bed earlier.
Aim to be in bed by 10:00pm and be asleep by 10:30pm to maximise the natural peak in your body's recovery hormones.
Tip3. Don't watch emotionally charged TV
Don't watch anything on TV that is going to make you sad or angry, so stay away from watching the late night news as this is nearly always doom and gloom. Instead opt for reading fiction.
Tip 4. Switch off the games console.
This tip follows on from the above tip. Playing computer games til the wee small hours not only keeps your cortisol levels high but can also stimulate the release of adrenalin. Your body cannot relax if it's all fired up for fight or flight.
Tip 5. Don't use your bedroom as an office.
Remove all electrical items from your bedroom as they produce electromagnetic fields that interfere with the body's hormones.
Tip 6. Sleep in complete darkness.
Any light acting on the skin activates our body's "wake up" hormones. If that means getting black out curtains and wearing a eye mask so be it.
Tip 7. Take a bath.
Epsom salts baths help to relax the body. Have a 20 minute bath to unwind. Add 500g-1kg of epsom salts for a really good muscle soak. Drink Tulsi Tea and or Chamomile Tea, which help to relax
the body and naturally bring your cortisol levels down.
Tip 8. Exercise.
People who exercise generally sleep better than
those that live a sedentary lifestyle. However, be mindful of the time you
exercise and the type of exercise you do, as some forms are more stimulating
For instance I used to do kickboxing but found that sparring filled me with adrenalin and prevented me from getting a good nights sleep.
Tip 9. Stay hydrated.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day and stay away from caffeine. Dehydration is a stress for the body so if you become dehydrated while sleeping the body will go into panic mode and release cortisol.
Tip 10. Eat a healthy balanced diet.
Finally, follow the nutrition principles laid out in my Fitness Reboot and Transformation Program. A healthy diet helps the body to distress, heal and naturally lose weight.
By consistently practicing these 10 tips you'll massively improve your bodies stress levels and improve your health.
Why not put as many into practice for the next 30 days and see how much better you feel.
Have an amazing day and a great nights sleep.