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Sleep More to Lose More



The importance of sleep, why we need it, and how it will help you perform better and become the best version of yourself.


Poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance and brain function. It can also result in weight-gain and increase disease risk in both adults and children.


If you’re goal is to optimize your health or lose weight, improving your sleep should absolutely be top of your to-do-list!


Sleep deprivation is real. 35.2% of all adults in the U.S report sleeping on average for less than seven hours per night. Almost 50% of Americans report feeling sleepy during the day between three and seven days a week.

So what is causing this?



Caffeine


Let’s first discuss caffeine. I realize I have targeted caffeine a lot in my blog posts but it is a real problem. 64% of American adults consume coffee every day, and not just one cup. It is estimated that the average coffee drinking American consumes 3.1 cups per day!


Why is this a problem?


Well, coffee, contains caffeine, and caffeine is a drug and unfortunately regular caffeine consumption can lead to dependency. What people don’t tell you. Caffeine itself has a half-life of 8-12hours, this simply means, if you have a cup of coffee at noon, AT LEAST 50% of that caffeine is still stimulating your brain at 8pm-12 midnight. Now lets assume you enjoy that afternoon cup of coffee at 4pm, you’ll still be wired at 4am!


Regardless of what you may think, or think you feel, the impact coffee (caffeine) has on your sleep is dramatic. That evening cup of coffee actually lowers your deep sleep by approximately 20%, and you might be thinking to yourselves, thats nothing, I can handle that. BUT deep sleep declines with age, in order to experience the same 20% decline in deep sleep, you’d have to age yourself 15 years! That’s scary!


Ways to limit your caffeine consumption


  1. Delay your morning coffee for at least an hour after you wake up in the morning. First thing in the morning is when we should be at our most alert and awake. Soon after waking our bodies produce cortisol, a natural energy booster, so caffeine is not needed. Furthermore, at around 11am, our circadian rhythm cycle peaks, at this time, it ‘should’ be nearly impossible to fall asleep, so a coffee around this time is also not necessary!

  2. Try to limit caffeine consumption to times when you need a functional boost, such as a long drive, or long meeting.

  3. Pay attention to normal triggers for caffeine consumption and try to avoid that stimulus as best you can. Include friends and family on this topic and enable them to help you recognize the same triggers and support you.

  4. Keep a daily diary of your caffeine consumption similarly to your diet so you can scale back gradually and understand the amount you’re consuming.


Caffeine isn’t our only culprit for poor sleep. But next we are going to cover how we can improve on our sleep and reclaim the energy and recovery we need and deserve on a daily basis.


Bright light exposure


Our bodies have a natural time-keeping clock known as circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm affects your brain, body and hormones enabling you to stay awake, but also letting your body know when it is time to sleep.

Getting as much natural sunlight or bright light during the day, is not just beneficial for Vitamin D, it also promotes a healthy circadian rhythm. More natural sunlight will not only improve day time energy, but will also improve nighttime sleep duration and quality.

Contrary to this, decrease bright light exposure closer to bedtime and evening hours will enable your body to increase its production of melatonin far sooner. Try avoiding late night grocery shopping trips, turning on the bathroom light during the night for the restroom, and turning off the TV/Computer/Phone a few hours prior to bedtime.

In people with insomnia, daytime bright light exposure improved sleep quality and duration. It also reduced the time it took to fall asleep by 83%.(1)

A similar study in older adults found that 2 hours of bright light exposure during the day increased the amount of sleep by 2 hours and sleep efficiency by 80%.(2)



Day-Time Naps


As much as I am sure sometimes a day time nap feels like a necessity, it may actually be hindering your evening sleep. Theres plenty of research support the benefits of power naps, but it is best to avoid long or irregular nap times during the day. Optimal power nap durations range from 10 to 20 minutes.


Sleeping for longer durations during the day can ‘confuse’ your internal clock, making falling asleep at nighttime more difficult. One study found that participants who took day time naps, were generally more sleepy during the day. (3)



Consistent Sleep Schedule


The circadian rhythm aligns itself with sunrise and sunset. Being consistent with waking and sleep times allows your circadian rhythm to function optimally, improving your long-term sleep quality.


Irregular sleep patterns have shown alterations in your circadian rhythm and levels of melatonin, the hormone that signals your brain to sleep.(4)


A lot of the time we are able to maintain a consistent sleep schedule during the week and then on weekends we tend to relax or go out and alter our typical sleep schedule. However, a study noted that it’s participants that changed their sleep schedule on weekends reported poor sleep quality.(4)




Avoid Consuming Alcohol

The other drug I continue to encourage my clients to avoid is alcohol. Not only is it preventing weight-loss, it also directly results in negatively affecting your sleep.


Alcohol is known to cause or increase symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring and disrupted sleep patterns.(5, 6)


Alcohol also disrupts nighttime melatonin production, which, as we’ve already discussed, helps our brain to fall asleep. Furthermore, alcohol consumption also decreases the natural elevations in human growth hormone (HGH), which plays a vital role in body composition, cell repair and metabolism. In addition, your disruptions of HGH will lower your ability to build muscle, improve strength and exercise performance, and increase your risk of injury and disease. Lower HGH levels will make you gain fat. (7, 8, 9)


Optimize your bedroom environment


Optimizing your bedroom environment can help improve your sleep dramatically. Limiting bedroom light exposure, from outside sources, the TV light, cell phone charger etc helps our body produce more melatonin (see section on bright light)

Furthermore, we can improve our sleep by creating a healthier bedroom temperature. The sleepfoundation.org suggests the best bedroom temperature for sleep is 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius).

It was noted that bedroom temperature has a large impact on sleep quality than external noise. In addition, many studies have supported that and increased body temperature and bedroom temperature can decrease sleep quality and increase wakefulness. (10)



Exercise Regularly - but NOT before bed


It is well researched that exercise improves sleep and overall health. Plenty of studies cover the benefits of sleep in reducing symptoms of insomnia. (11, 12) A 1997 study on Moderate-intensity exercise and self-rated quality of sleep in older adults found that exercise nearly halved the amount time it took to fall asleep and increased sleep duration on average by 41 minutes.(12)

With people suffering from severe insomnia, exercise was found to be more beneficial than most drugs. Exercise reduced time to fall asleep by 55%, total night wakefulness by 30%, and anxiety by 15% while increasing total sleep time by 18%.(13)

Unfortunately, not all exercise is held equal, in terms of time of the day. Exercise late in the evening leads to sleep problems. When we exercise, we increase alertness and hormones like epinephrine and adrenalin. In addition, exercise also increases circulating cortisol levels, melatonins counter-part, which we learnt earlier is elevated in the morning when we wake and should decline in the evening before we sleep.

Conclusion

Sleep plays a significant role in our overall health, body composition, and energy. If you’re looking to improve your health, exercise performance or just simply look better naked, you need to start taking action on improving the quality of your sleep and address any applicable subjects we discussed today!

If you have any questions surrounding the information in this article, or wish to know more, please reach out to me directly.


Reference

  1. Campbell SS, Dawson D, Anderson MW. Alleviation of sleep maintenance insomnia with timed exposure to bright light. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1993 Aug;41(8):829-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1993.tb06179.x. PMID: 8340561.

  2. Fetveit A, Skjerve A, Bjorvatn B. Bright light treatment improves sleep in institutionalised elderly--an open trial. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2003 Jun;18(6):520-6. doi: 10.1002/gps.852. PMID: 12789673.

  3. McDevitt EA, Alaynick WA, Mednick SC. The effect of nap frequency on daytime sleep architecture. Physiol Behav. 2012 Aug 20;107(1):40-4. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.05.021. Epub 2012 May 31. PMID: 22659474; PMCID: PMC3744392.

  4. Giannotti F, Cortesi F, Sebastiani T, Ottaviano S. Circadian preference, sleep and daytime behaviour in adolescence. J Sleep Res. 2002 Sep;11(3):191-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2869.2002.00302.x. PMID: 12220314.

  5. Issa FG, Sullivan CE. Alcohol, snoring and sleep apnea. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1982 Apr;45(4):353-9. doi: 10.1136/jnnp.45.4.353. PMID: 7077345; PMCID: PMC491372.

  6. Taasan VC, Block AJ, Boysen PG, Wynne JW. Alcohol increases sleep apnea and oxygen desaturation in asymptomatic men. Am J Med. 1981 Aug;71(2):240-5. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(81)90124-8. PMID: 7258218.

  7. Nass R, Huber RM, Klauss V, Müller OA, Schopohl J, Strasburger CJ. Effect of growth hormone (hGH) replacement therapy on physical work capacity and cardiac and pulmonary function in patients with hGH deficiency acquired in adulthood. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1995 Feb;80(2):552-7. doi: 10.1210/jcem.80.2.7852519. PMID: 7852519.

  8. Clasey JL, Weltman A, Patrie J, Weltman JY, Pezzoli S, Bouchard C, Thorner MO, Hartman ML. Abdominal visceral fat and fasting insulin are important predictors of 24-hour GH release independent of age, gender, and other physiological factors. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Aug;86(8):3845-52. doi:

  9. Møller N, Jørgensen JO, Abildgård N, Orskov L, Schmitz O, Christiansen JS. Effects of growth hormone on glucose metabolism. Horm Res. 1991;36 Suppl 1:32-5. PMID: 1806481.

  10. Libert JP, Di Nisi J, Fukuda H, Muzet A, Ehrhart J, Amoros C. Effect of continuous heat exposure on sleep stages in humans. Sleep. 1988 Apr;11(2):195-209. doi: 10.1093/sleep/11.2.195. PMID: 3381060.

  11. Youngstedt SD. Effects of exercise on sleep. Clin Sports Med. 2005 Apr;24(2):355-65, xi. doi: 10.1016/j.csm.2004.12.003. PMID: 15892929.

  12. King AC, Oman RF, Brassington GS, Bliwise DL, Haskell WL. Moderate-intensity exercise and self-rated quality of sleep in older adults. A randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 1997 Jan 1;277(1):32-7. PMID: 8980207.

  13. Passos GS, Poyares D, Santana MG, Garbuio SA, Tufik S, Mello MT. Effect of acute physical exercise on patients with chronic primary insomnia. J Clin Sleep Med. 2010 Jun 15;6(3):270-5. PMID: 20572421; PMCID: PMC2883039.

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