We all know how great it feels to wake up in the morning after a good night's sleep, and we all sleep is important for our health and happiness, but…
…Still we often push through bedtimes or deny ourselves the sleep we need because we want to be the perfect parent, push ourselves at the gym, to see friends and socialise on the weekends… And then 6 hours of sleep becomes our normal sleep regime.
When it comes to our brain and body, the data suggests that every physiological process in the body and every process of the mind is improved by adequate amounts of deep, quality sleep and that includes our metabolism! It may sound counterintuitive but it is more beneficial to sleep in an extra hour than to get up for a workout with just 5 hours of sleep. While this may be music to the ears of some, let’s look at what is actually happening in our body when we cut back on sleep.
How Sleep Impacts Appetite
When we start to consistently get below 6 hours of sleep there are two critical appetite hormones—ghrelin and leptin—that go awry.
Ghrelin stimulates appetite by letting your brain know that you are hungry, while leptin is the hormone signals to your brain that you are full and satisfied, decreasing appetite. You can remember this if you think about a hungry tummy making a "grr!" noise—that's the "grr-elin" kicking in!
Leptin is the satiety hormone that kicks in once we've had some food to tell us when to can stop eating.
When the body is sleep-deprived, these hormone receptors become less senstitive and the level of ghrelin is amplified—making us feel more hungry than usual—while the level of leptin falls—meaning we typically eat more food before our body tells us to stop.
According to sleep expert, Dr Matthew Walker, this hormone imbalance in people sleeping less than 6 hours a night, equates to an average of 300 additional calories eaten each day relative to the same individuals sleeping 8 hours per night.
The Sleep—Cravings Connection
Not only is lack of sleep associated with increased eating and decreased satiety, it’s also associated with what kinds of food we are craving and eating.
When the brain and body are insufficiently rested they will seek out additional carbohydrates for that quick energy release—especially simple carbohydrates as the body knows they make for a quick source of energy. We’re talking processed foods, refined sugars and so on that do give a short burst of energy, but also promote levels of inflammation, and even affect our sleep later on that night.
What’s Going On With Your Metabolism?
So when we're sleep deprived, we eat more and crave more simple sugars, but what about ‘burning this off’ by raising your metabolism?
When we talk about metabolism we’re looking at all the things your body does to turn food into energy and keep you going. When it comes to lack of sleep, metabolism gets pretty interesting…
Cortisol is one of our main stress hormones—it is our "daytime energy" hormone and responsible for alertness. When we are lacking in sleep, cortisol spikes and does something very interesting—it sends a signal to your body to conserve energy and hold onto your fat stores. In case it should need them to adequately fuel your waking hours. This results in the flow-on effect where your body craves those energy giving carbohydrates and burns lean muscle mass for energy instead.
Sleep And Our Physical Capacity For Exercise
Sleep impacts our physical exhaustion levels.That might sound obvious, right—if you don’t sleep well, then you feel tired the next day. But by how much?
When you’re looking at people that sleep just 5-6 hours per night, their time to physical exhaustion decreases by 10-30%.
Lack of sleep also decreases your aerobic output which is your muscles' capacity to expend energy and our blood-oxygen saturation. It also impairs your body’s ability to cool down through sweating.
Across the board, if you’re planning to do any form of physical exercise or daily movement, your effectiveness will be negatively impacted to some degree when you have under-slept.
Have we convinced 7-9 hours of sleep is the way to go? Great! Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Stop Eating and Drinking 2-3 Hours Before Bedtime
At dinner, eat a balanced meal of whole foods with good quality sources of carbohydrates.
We also recommend having stimulatory foods or beverages earlier in the day. If you like to drink coffee, have it in the morning. Dessert person? Have it earlier in the day and choose treats with high quality fats (we love raw slice and the BePure black bean brownie) are preferable for regulating your blood sugar levels.
2. Hungry before bed?
Try these delicious, chamomile bedtime gummies.
To help relax your mind and prepare it for sleep, try BePure Deep Sleep. Formulated to calm the body and mind, it supports falling and staying asleep. If you experience restless legs, we recommend BePure Magnesium Restore.