Episode 016: Hack Your Sleep for Health & Fat Loss

Feb 17, 2015

It is not just about the QUANTITY of your sleep. The QUALITY of your sleep might be preventing your weight loss. That’s right; when we don’t get into those deepest stages of sleep we are making weight loss an uphill battle. We talk about how sleep deprivation leads to insulin resistance and how stress, light exposure, food & exercise can impair our ability to get good, quality sleep. We also go through concrete steps you can take TODAY to allow your body to get into those deeper phases of sleep.

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The problem: We aren’t getting enough total sleep but, more importantly, we aren’t getting quality sleep. Our diet & lifestyle habits are preventing us from getting deep, healing, restorative sleep. A lack of this deep, restorative sleep leads to major hormonal imbalances, hunger, cravings, lack of satiety, mood swings, depression, fat storage and more.

Even mild, short term sleep deprivation creates MAJOR insulin resistance, keeping your body in fat-storing mode and out of fat-burning mode for longer.

The Solution: Understand how your body is supposed to work. Understand your natural cycles of cortisol and melatonin and how diet and lifestyle choices are throwing that off and preventing your body from getting deep sleep, regardless of the quantity of sleep you’re getting. Our cortisol levels naturally peak in the morning to help us wake up and be ready to tackle the day. Melatonin, the sleep & relaxation hormone, peaks at night helping us to rest, fall asleep and get into these deep stages of sleep. However, we mess up this balance, suppressing melatonin at night and elevating cortisol. While we might be able to fall asleep, this keeps us from getting restorative sleep that we need. Here are some of the things that suppress melatonin or elevate cortisol:

  • Exposure to light, especially blue light from TVs, tablets and cell phones, suppresses melatonin
  • Late night eating elevates cortisol
  • Chronic stress elevates cortisol
  • Chronic consumption of sugar and processed foods elevates cortisol (remember, everytime we elevate cortisol we are suppressing melatonin)

Practical Implementation:

  • Minimize blue light exposure once the sun goes down
    • Consider downloading the free software f.lux
    • Consider orange-light glasses
  • Exposure yourself to natural light during the day time and avoid excess light once the sun goes down
  • Get blackout curtains and cover all sources of light in your bedroom – the photoreceptors in your skin can sense the light and this will supress melatonin production
  • Don’t exercise within a couple hours of bedtime (this will increase cortisol and suppress melatonin)
  • Practice stress management techniques such as meditation or leisure walking
  • Control your blood sugar. Limit or eliminate processed foods
  • Stop eating within a couple hours of bedtime
  • Lower the temperature in your bedroom by a couple of degrees (the ideal temp for sleeping is 60-68 degrees. Wear socks.)
  • Limit your caffeine after lunch time. Caffeine will elevate cortisol and suppress melatonin

f.lux: https://justgetflux.com/
Orange light glasses: Buy on amazon
Shawn Stevenson’s book Sleep Smarter

For more on hormones and fat loss, check out the Primal Potential Fat Loss ebook


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