Thursday, January 04, 2018

What the health! Part 4

This is part 4 of ‘What the health’ series. You can find earlier parts here – part 1part 2, part 3
  1. Sleep -
In today’s world, snoozing can be difficult, particularly when all your screens (computers, TVs, cell phones, tablets) lure you into staying up just a little longer. A lot of people also have ‘missing out on life’ syndrome so they don’t want to spend time sleeping. A lot of us make a mistake of popping sleeping pills (like I did for almost 2 years - it was a very bad idea).

The most important thing that I fixed after my diet and medicine usage is my sleep.  Why? Because… being short on sleep can affect your wellbeing and your weight too. While you are awake at night, your body cooks up a perfect recipe for weight gain.

When you’re short on sleep, it’s easy to lean on a large latte to get moving, I used to have a venti coffee from Starbucks everyday. You might be tempted to skip exercise because you are too tired, get takeout for dinner, and then turn in late because you’re uncomfortably full.

Skimping on sleep sets your brain up to make bad decisions. It dulls activity in the brain’s frontal lobe, the locus of decision-making and impulse control. So it is a little like being drunk. You don’t have the mental clarity to make good decisions, it can also affects your mood and the way you behave with people around you. Plus, when you’re overtired, your sleep-deprived brain may have trouble saying no to a second slice of cake.

Sleep is brain’s nutrition. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours each night. Insufficient sleep impacts your hunger and fullness hormones, including two called ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin signals your brain that it is time to eat. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body makes more ghrelin.

Leptin, on the other hand, cues your brain to put the fork down. When you are not getting enough sleep, leptin levels plummet, signaling your brain to eat more food.

Put the two together, and it is no wonder that sleep deprivation leads to overeating and extra pounds.
Then there’s the cortisol spike that comes from too little sleep. This stress hormone signals your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours that means you are more apt to hang on to fat.

Sleep deprivation makes you ‘metabolically groggy’ that means - your body’s ability to process insulin - a hormone needed to change sugar, starches, and other food into energy - goes awry. When your body doesn't respond properly to insulin, your body has trouble processing fats from your bloodstream, so it ends up storing them as fat.

So it’s not so much that if you sleep, you’ll lose weight, but that too little sleep hampers your metabolism and contributes to weight gain.

How do you ensure a good night’s sleep -
  • Shutdown your computer, cell phone, and TV at least an hour before you go to bed. No gadgets on the bedside.
  • Save your bedroom for sleep, rather than work, dining or entertainment.
  • Create a bedtime ritual. It's not the time to tackle big issues. Instead, take a warm bath, meditate, or read.
  • Stick to a schedule, waking up and retiring at the same times every day, even on weekends.
  • Avoid eating heavy meals and alcohol close to bedtime, which may cause heartburn and make it hard to fall asleep. And steer clear of soda, tea, coffee, and chocolate after 2 p.m. Caffeine can stay in your system for 5 to 6 hours. I stopped drinking coffee completely since last 2 years.
  • Turn out the lights. Darkness cues your body to release the natural sleep hormone melatonin, while light suppresses it.
I do have sleep issues - I am oversensitive to sounds, any small sound wakes me up and if I wake up in the middle of the night I have hard time going back to sleep again (mostly thoughts keep in awake). So the thing that helped me the most with my sleep issues is the app InsightTimer - it has loads of guided sleep meditations/ hypnosis. I absolutely love it, Glenn Harrold’s meditations are my most favorite. Whenever I am having trouble sleeping I play his sleep hypnosis and sleep like a baby… no more sleeping pills for me.

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