Sleep, a topic near and dear to us. In our 20s and 30s, many of us could burn the midnight oil without any serious repercussions. After 40, however, lack of sleep has a serious impact on at least six areas of our lives – weight loss being one of them.
At night, our internal clock releases melatonin from the brain. Melatonin increases drowsiness and helps us achieve a healthy sleep cycle. Like most hormones, however, melatonin production decreases as we age resulting in less quality sleep and diminishing overall health.
If your goal is to lose body fat, your focus most likely is on making changes to diet and our exercise regimen, if any. Most of us do not give much thought to the importance of a healthy night’s sleep, however. Even a moderate amount of sleep loss during the week is enough to affect, or even prevent, the loss of body fat.
Statistically, studies have shown that people who are sleep-deprived, experience as much as 50 percent or more increase in body fat as compared to those members of the same group who are not sleep deprived. There are other wide-ranging health benefits to be gained by adopting a regimen of proper sleep – especially as we grow older.
Cultivation of a positive sleep regimen contributes to the overall growth and regeneration of the body including its muscular, skeletal, immune, nervous and other systems. During “deep sleep,” tissue-building hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and growth hormones are released to assist our body in returning to balance, wholeness, and good health.
Metabolic processes occur while we sleep. The body produces collagen which is necessary for skin health and helps fight lines and wrinkles. A proper night’s sleep also breaks the seemingly endless cycle of “less sleep/more stress” – more stress leading to even less sleep, leading to even greater stress…
People who sleep 4 to 5 hours a night, are more angry, sad and mentally fatigued than those who sleep to 7 to 8 hours a night. Proper sleep reduces inflammation, which equates to less cancer, less diabetes and less heart-related conditions.
A good night’s sleep also contributes to a better memory – your brain is given the opportunity during sleep, to process and file away information that you have acquired during the day. Developing a healthy relationship with sleep is one of the best things you can do for your overall physical, emotional and mental health.
Some thoughts to help create a better sleep regimen:
(1) Avoid caffeine late in the afternoon. (2) Do not work out intensely four to five hours before bed. (3) Maintain a calm and quiet environment. (4) Establish and follow a regular sleep schedule every day. (5) Sleep in a peaceful, cool and dark room. (6) Avoid bright light before bed (7) Avoid electronic “blue light” that your computer and other digital devices generate. These devices contribute to the brain’s producing less melatonin. (A supplement called “Luten Blue” is being marketed to help filter out damaging Blue Light to help eyes health.) (8) Tart cherries are one of the few foods in a normal diet that create melatonin in such quantity as to have a positive effect on the body. (9) Melatonin supplementation around bedtime can improve the quality of one’s sleep. (10) Magnesium is essential to sleep quality. Enjoy magnesium-rich foods like dark leafy greens, nuts, and dark chocolate. (11) Visualization (12) Deep breathing. (13) Meditation.
I invite you to have a better night’s sleep and to share in my journey, to a better “you” and a better “us.