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"Slim Down with Sleep: Unlocking the Secrets of a Leaner You!"



Quick notes: Poor sleep is affecting the levels of your satiety hormone (Leptin) and your hunger hormone (Ghrelin) and the result is that it makes it harder for you to control your calorie consumption and of course burn fat/lose weight. 


Let's start off with a little experiment:

  1. Raise your hand if you’ve lost weight but had trouble keeping it off or your results have stalled regardless of how hard you diet or exercise. 

  2. Keep your hand raised if you consistently go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.

  3. Keep your hand raised if you look at a TV, phone or computer screen right before bed.

  4. Keep your hand raised if the duration of that sleep is 8 hours or longer in length.

  5. Finally keep your hand raised if you wake up from that sleep feeling refreshed and that you don't need to go back to sleep again.


If you had your hand down for 2, 3, 4, or 5 sleep is likely a majorly overlooked factor negatively impacting your fat loss and overall health goals. 


Let's talk about why sleep is easily the most overlooked aspect to your fat loss journey.


In a nutshell sleep is what we use to:

  • Recover from every single form of stress including exercise, dietary, emotional & work related stressors.

  • Decrease risks for all forms of mortality including but not limited to heart & brain related diseases. This includes but is not limited to Heart attacks, Strokes, Dementia, Alzheimer's, P.T.S.D and more. 

  • Regulate hormone release and function. Today we will focus on two key hormones that relate to hunger: Leptin and Ghrelin.



What are Leptin and Ghrelin?


Leptin

Simple definition: The hormone that says “I’m satisfied with how much I’ve eaten”.


Ghrelin

Simple definition: The hormone that says “I'm hungry, give me more food!”


Why do they matter and How do they affect us?


According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine done on 12 normal weight men average leptin levels measured after 2 nights of 4 hour bedtimes were 18% lower and ghrelin 28% higher than after 2 nights of 10 h bedtimes.”




Note: Those sleeping less than 8 full hours per night will have lower satiety and higher hunger signals. 


So when you are not getting enough sleep, your body will LIE TO YOU by saying it's not full and that you are hungry even when you’ve eaten enough the day before. The combined consequences? Your appetite and cravings increase making it more challenging to adhere to a fat loss protocol/diet.



How do I manage these hormones?

Please see the green  highlighted areas for the quick summary of each of the 3 sections.



GET YOUR SLEEP RIGHT! 

Obvious answer, but challenging in execution. With a society built to harm our sleep habits (via excessive light, over stimulation via media [Netflix, YouTube, Tiktok, instagram etc.], poor down regulating habits, late meals/drinks, high stress, etc.) it's becoming increasingly more important to get these habits locked in to give us the best possible fat loss but also overall health outcomes. 


Note: Start slow. Only focus on improving 1 habit at a time and give each habit at least 3-4 weeks  of consistency before adding another or shifting focus. Especially if you’ve spent years doing the opposite of the habit you’re trying to instill. “Rome wasn't built in a day” and new habits won't be either.


Light Exposure

  1. As soon as you wake up, aim to get 15-20 minutes of light exposure. 

Any form of light will do but if possible aim to get direct Sunlight without sunglasses.

  • There is a measure of light called Lux and getting exposure to higher Lux light earlier in the day helps set your body's natural body clock (circadian rhythm).

  • Once this clock is set your body will gradually build up a chemical called “Adenosine” and for this example we’ll call it building up sleepiness.

  • If you set your clock at the beginning of the day by getting adequate light exposure, you’ll help your body build up enough sleepiness for you to cash out at the end of the day.


  1. Dim the lights as much as possible 1-2 hours prior to bedtime. (under rated!)

  • Darker environments help our bodies produce a chemical called melatonin.

  • Melatonin also helps us regulate our bodies internal clock (circadian rhythm). 

  • Higher levels of Melatonin pre-bedtime help us fall asleep quicker.


  1. Turn off all screens 30-60 minutes before bed.

  • In addition to the reasons above we want to aim for less stimulating activity pre bedtime.

  • Think about what it is you’re typically doing pre bed and how long you do it for. Most people don't plan to scroll as long as they do and before long it's been 30+ minutes spent scrolling mindlessly and aimlessly.

  • I suggest journaling, meditating, stretching, reading by dim light, listening to overly descriptive or soothing audio. The key here is to “empty your mind”, relax and fall asleep without stress. (More detail on this in the following section: Bedroom activity)


Summary: 

  • Get 15 minutes of lights early in the morning to set your body clock.

  • Dim the lights as much as safely possible 1-2 hours prior to bedtime to start releasing melatonin which will allow you to fall asleep. 

  • Turn off all screens 30-60 minutes pre-bed to allow your mind to “slow down”.


Bedroom activity

1.Keep the bed for sleep and sex. If you must use your phone in your room, do it standing or in a chair. Your aim is to create a habit that goes: Lay in bed & either get freaky or go sleepy. 


2. Read books or listen to stories are either very soothing/calming or that give extreme detail to the point that you cannot focus on anything else. This will allow you to detach from thinking about tasks left incomplete, overthinking, and various other stressors because we only have so much “bandwidth” or space available in our brains and when we fill it up with high detail like below it becomes very difficult to think about anything else.


  • Example: As she walked down the long, dark hallway of the abandoned mansion, the air was thick with an eerie stillness. The flickering light from a single, ancient chandelier above cast long, distorted shadows on the cracked, Victorian-era wallpaper that peeled away like layers of forgotten memories.

    • It is not advised to listen or read things that encourage deep thought or create tons of questions.



3. Keep your room cool! (under rated)

Fun fact: We need our core body temperature to drop 1-3 degrees to fall and stay asleep, conversely we need it to rise 1-3 degrees to wake up.




  • We tend to sleep best when our external environment is a temperature somewhere between 60-68 Fahrenheit or 15-20 degrees Celsius. Think about those cool dark cottage night sleeps. Feel free to go colder as bundling up for warmth is typically easier to do than cooling down during sleep.

  • Cooler room temperature allows your body to start slowing down. When your body gets to its correct temperature it makes it easier to fall and stay asleep. 

  • Think about how miserable your sleep is when it's too hot outside and you wake up sweating versus when you’re cold. Or that feeling of snuggling up in your Duvet like a tired hamster in a bundle of hay when it's a very cold day.


Summary

  • Avoid using technology in the bedroom and let it become a space for sleep and intimacy which will make falling asleep once your head hits the pillow easier over time.

  • Establish a calming or non-stimulating pre bedtime routine to put you in a relaxed and ready to sleep state.

  • Keep your room temperature as cool as possible to allow your body temperature to lower 1-3 degrees. This will help you enter the REM and Deep sleep stages sooner and assuming you sleep long enough you’ll also go through more sleep cycles (To learn more about sleep cycles/stages check out this post by “Oura” https://ouraring.com/blog/sleep-stages/).




Movement & Nutrition



  1. Move as much as possible throughout the day.

As important as exercise is for maintaining mobility, flexibility and strength as we age, it is crucial to move if we want to sleep better.


  • Everyday you put energy into your body and create or release tension depending on how much or how little you move. Your goal is to burn that energy by the end of the day & move often to release the tension accumulated by sitting still for hours on end. The result? Better sleep, healthier stress management and a healthier/happier you. 

  • Bonus: You’ll begin to see significant improvements in your ability to make healthier food choices, and see a positive change in your daily energy.


  1. Aim to finish eating and hydrating 2-3 hours before bed. If you must eat close to bed aim to make this your smallest and easiest to digest meal. There are several reasons that I am aware of to avoid this. 

  • There is less movement towards the end of the day which means when we eat large amounts so close to day's end we’re taking on “excess” energy that still needs to be utilized or stored for future use (Fat).

  • When we are awake vs. asleep our bodies allocate specific amounts of energy to each of our organ/internal systems. These amounts change according to the demands we place on each of those systems. 

  • Please note these numbers are for example purposes only to help you understand the shifts in energy being awake vs asleep: 


Organ system

Awake %

Asleep % 

Brain

20%

17%

Gut

10%

8%

Heart

10%

8%

Muscles

10%

5%

Kidneys

5%

4%

Remaining systems

45%

58%


As you can see when we sleep those numbers will be adjusted to help recover from the various stresses of the day. Furthermore, these numbers will also change depending on how late you eat/drink, how much you eat/drink, & what you eat/drink towards the end of the day. When this happens it makes it hard for us to feel well rested for a variety of reasons. 


There is always a consequence from “robbing peter to pay paul” in other words, you sacrifice one function's optimization to poorly execute another system's function. Example: if you needed to use more energy to recover your muscles from a hard workout but ate a large, hard to digest meal right before bed then your gut would also require more energy to digest it. 

However because you’d be lying down/not moving you would not digest very efficiently which would likely cause inflammatory issues. Now your body has to deal with this issue as well which of course means the muscular healing process will happen at a slower rate because it has other functions it has to tackle at the same time or focus on first.


Summary

  • Moving more burn keeps you energized during the day and helps you sleep better at night.

  • It also helps reduce commonly occurring stiffness/body aches caused by excessive sitting.

  • Finish eating and hydrating 2-3 hours pre-bedtime to help your body sleep and recover with higher efficiency.




If you’ve made it this far congratulations, you’ve now got a deeper understanding of why sleep is so important for fat loss. In a world where we are constantly told to monitor calories and exercise and given specific strategies to do so, it's not often that sleep education is done in as much detail. Now that you know better, it's time to do better. Choose at least 1 opportunity you have, spend 3-4 weeks focusing on nailing that new habit and then once you do, choose your next habit.



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