7 Things We Bet You Don't Know About Sleep

Trying to get fit? Working on weight loss? You may have ramped up your exercise schedule and cleaned up your eating but if you aren’t dedicating enough time to sleep you might be sabotaging your goals.

At TFW South Metro our coaches focus on a multi-pronged approach that puts sleep at the forefront – with good reason.

Many experts believe that sleep is actually more crucial to weight loss than exercise. While you may think that sleeping is just a way for the body to shut down and relax, think again. There’s a lot going on inside while you snooze.

Your body uses sleep to restore and rebuild multiple vital metabolic functions. Without it you are opening yourself up to a host of physical problems.

If you’ve been skimping on your shut eye, now is the time to re-prioritize. Check out 7 things you should know about sleep:

1.  Sleep Controls Hormones Responsible for Weight Gain – It may be no coincidence that one third of Americans don’t get enough sleep and approximately the same number of people are obese.  Lack of sleep directly affects hormones that control weight gain and hunger:

  • Leptin – the hormone which signals fullness decreases.
  • Grhrelin – the hormone that tells your body to eat increases.
  • Cortisol – the stress hormone that causes higher insulin and lower blood sugar surges.

All of these add up to cravings that have you searching for more sugar-filled and fatty foods.

2.  Sleep Affects Your Body’s Ability to Build Muscle – Lack of sleep reduces production of testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone), both of which are integral for building muscle in men and women.

By cutting down on your ability to build lean muscle mass, you decrease your metabolism. This means you burn less calories each day.  That lean, muscular look that so many people covet requires more consistent pillow time!

3.  Lack of Sleep Over Time Negatively Impacts Your Skin – It turns out that beauty sleep is not a myth. A UK study followed a group of women and analyzed their skin after eight hours of sleep and then six hours for five nights in a row. 

The results were remarkable – lines and wrinkles increased 45%, blemishes increased 13% and redness increased 8%.

4.  Women are Often More Sleep Deprived than Men, Especially with Kids in the House -- Most moms will agree that they are more sleep deprived than their male partners and a new study confirms that.

Over two thousand women 46 and under were studied and the results were startling. Researchers found that the only factor affecting sleep was the number of children in the household. With each child the odds of insufficient sleep rose 50%.

This isn’t good news especially because women actually need 20 minutes more sleep per night than men. Women’s hormonal and physical makeup leads to lighter and less consistent sleep than men.

5.  If You Are Awake 17-19 Hours You Develop the Same Level of Impairment as Having a Blood Alcohol of .05% -- We’ve all done it – whether pulling an all-nighter studying or staying awake with a fussy kid, we’ve lost a lot of valuable sleep and tried to soldier on through the day.

But this behavior could literally be killing you if it becomes chronic. Studies found that going for more than 17 hours without sleep can cause a number of mind-numbing impairments, such as:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Daydreaming; wandering/disconnected thoughts
  • Feeling restless and irritable
  • Memory loss
  • Poor performance on physical tasks

Even more worrisome, within the 17-19 hour window your body reacts as if you have a blood alcohol level of .05%. Going even longer without sleep bumps that number up to .1%. Considering that many states have a DUI limit of .08%, it’s dangerous for you to even think about driving.

6.  Poor Sleep can lead to Heart Trouble – According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults who got less than six hours a night doubled their risk of a stroke or heart attack compared to those who slept six to eight hours nightly.

Why? Sleep is your body’s natural reset button. Without it, your heart doesn’t get the rest it needs to recover from the non-stop stress of your daily lifestyle. And worse, your chances of death from all causes increases 15% if you get less than 5 hours of sleep each night.

7.  Quality is as Important as Quantity When it comes to Shut Eye – Anyone who has struggled with insomnia knows the negative effects of poor sleep. Now the numbers are showing that poor quality of sleep is costing workers around the world dearly.

A new report found that the economic impact of insufficient sleep is negatively influencing work capacity in a number of countries. In the U.S., poor sleep results in the loss of $411 billion per year – that’s the equivalent of 2.28% of GDP.

It’s clear that sleep – and the lack of it – is not something to be ignored. If you are struggling to get your recommended 7 hours each night there are many strategies that can help you get a better and longer night’s rest. Check out these top tips:

  • Set consistent bedtimes and wake-up times (including on weekends)
  • Exercise earlier during the day, if possible.
  • Get away from the screens and technology at least 2 hours before bed.
  • Try drinking soothing tea such as Chamomile.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and cool.

When you invest as much energy into getting better sleep as you do creating good eating and training habits, you’ll start to actually notice the benefits of a restful and recharged body.  Isn't that what we all want?

Discover how you can improve a variety of your life habits to achieve a better level of fitness. Check out our Facebook page for advice to help you lose fat, build muscle and feel great..


Eric ParentComment