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Posts Tagged ‘melatonin’

Not Getting Enough Sleep Can Affect You In More Ways Than You Think

In lifestyle on August 30, 2018 at 12:00 pm
bed with white bed sheet and pillowcase set

Photo by William Sun on Pexels.com

Remember back in the day when you had to take a nap in pre-school?  Or when your mom made you take a nap – in broad daylight?  Being forced to take a nap or go to bed for the night was the worst thing your young mind could imagine.  All you could think about was what you thought you were going to miss by being sleep.

As adults, although no one is forcing you to go to sleep, there is still a FOMO mentality.  There is so much to do, so much to see and so many places to be that it’s a wonder we get any sleep at all.  Demanding work and school schedules, family responsibilities, full social calendars and entrepreneurial pursuits keep us going for hours, sometimes days on end.  Add to that the “#grinding” mindset or the “sleep when you are dead” mentality as well as our accessibility to technology and non stop social media engagement, a good night’s rest isn’t always at the top of our list of priorities.

Add to that our societal conditioning to think that sleeping is for lazy people which can make one feel like a loser for needing some downtime.  The truth of the matter is that sleep is very healthy.  Deep, restorative sleep heals, restores, and resets.  It keeps us looking beautiful and reduces accident risk and brain fog.  Conversely, not getting enough sleep can have negative effects on our health.  Sleep deprivation affects melatonin production, and can cause weight gain and increase the risk for chronic diseases.

The Relationship Between Sleep Deprivation And Melatonin Production.

Melatonin is a hormone that is made in the pineal gland and controls your sleep and wake cycles.  Production begins to rise mid to late evening after sunset and tells your body that it is night time.  Melatonin also controls other hormones in the body as well as the circadium rhythm which is your internal body clock.  Remaining awake well into the late hours of the night/early morning with regular lighting and the blue light from cell phones and computer screens interfere with melatonin secretion and makes the body think it’s still daylight  which can cause you to have trouble sleeping.

The Cycle Of Sleep Deprivation And Weight Gain.

Everyone has had those days of being tired at work.  For whatever reason, your eyelids are heavy and you are desperate to stay awake.  What do you do when this happens?  You reach for soda, coffee, or some other sugary snack – anything to help you make it through your day.  But wait – it doesn’t stop there.  You get off work, skip that soulcycle class, grab some take out and go home to get some other things done. You don’t go to bed until after midnight, only to get up at 5 or 6 am to do it all over again, thus repeating this sleep(less) and poor eating pattern for days on end.

When you are fatigued, you not only have less physical activity but you make poor food choices.  In fact, studies have found that “a sleepy brain not only responds more strongly to junk food, but also has less ability to rein that impulse in” (1).  How does this relate to weight gain?  The simple explanation is that sleep deprivation affects your metabolism which becomes slower when you don’t get enough sleep.  Everyone knows that low metabolism equals weight gain.  The not so simple explanation:  during sleep, our bodies secrete hormones to regulate things like appetite and glucose.  Three main types of hormones become affected when you don’t get enough rest:  ghrelin, leptin and cortisol.  Grehlin is the hormone that tells you when to eat and when you are sleepy, you produce more ghrelin.  Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating and when you are tired, you have less leptin.  More ghrelin + less leptin equals more weight (2).  Lack of sleep also raises the stress hormone cortisol which increases your appetite as well as belly fat.  Cortisol is not all bad.  In fact it is necessary but in adequate levels and not before bed.  Sleep deprivation and stress cause cortisol to be secreted in large amounts and doesn’t have the opportunity to decrease.  This also leads to insulin resistance. (3).

The Relationship Between Sleep Deprivation And Chronic Disease.

Chronic diseases are increasing because of numerous lifestyle factors, including poor sleep.  Some of these diseases include:

  • Diabetes.  Remember insulin?  It’s the hormone that regulates glucose processing and promotes fat storage.  Fat storage leads to weight gain which is a risk factor for diabetes.  Glucose is the carb that cells use for fuel and when you get less sleep, you process glucose more slowly.
  • High Blood Pressure/Heart Disease.  Less sleep can cause more stress which can elevate blood pressure to unsafe levels.
  • Low Immunity.  Chronic fatigue can negatively impact the immune system.  When you have compromised immunity, it can affect your ability to fight off infections (4).

Here are 6 things you can do tonight get better sleep:

  • Be Consistent With Your Sleep Schedule.  Go to sleep and wake up the same time every day, even on the weekends.  This can be especially difficult for those who are shift workers, flight attendants, those who travel for work and even new parents.  The most important thing is to be purposeful and strategic about your sleep schedule and set boundaries with those around you to ensure you get the 7-8 hours of rest that you need.
  • Keep It Cool.  We all know how difficult it is to fall asleep or stay asleep when you are hot.  Be sure to lower the temperature before bed to help you remain comfortable.
  • Power Down/Unplug Before Bed.  Surfing the internet, texting and scrolling through social media can make you anxious and keep you awake instead of putting you in a relaxed state before bed, thus affecting your sleep.  Put your phone on silent and begin to power down an hour or so before bed.  Consider reading or meditating during this time.
  • Consider Using White Noise.  The gentle hum of the air conditioner or the steady sound of rain outside can lull you into a deep sleep.  Don’t have access to a clothes dryer or rain is not in the forecast?  Download a white noise app like White Noise Deep Sleep which can help you feel calm and block out unwanted noises.
  • Keep Your Sleep Space Tidy.  Do you ever feel anxious when you have items scattered throughout your room?  Clearing your space can help to clear your mind which can lead to you being able to fall asleep easier, faster and deeper.
  • Avoid Caffeine for obvious reasons.

What are some ways you ensure you get a good night’s sleep?  Share your ideas below.

Sources:

(1) How sleep loss adds to weight gain.  https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/06/how-sleep-loss-adds-to-weight-gain/

(2) Sleep and weight gain    https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/lack-of-sleep-weight-gain#2

(3)  The stress, Cortisol and weight gain connection  https://www.restartmed.com/cortisol-and-weight-gain/

(4) Sleep and disease risk  http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-and-disease-risk