Beauty Sleep

Beauty Sleep
Achieve your weight loss goals-by sleeping?

By Dr Natasha Turner, ND

A good rest has always been called beauty sleep-but how about a lean body sleep? New research shows that individuals who are not sleep deprived have an increased capacity to lose weight and keep it off.

Sleep reduces stress hormones, important for fat loss. Sufficient rest and recuperation effectively reduces our stress hormone, cortisol. When we are sleep deprived, cortisol levels rise. Cortisol controls our appetite, often making us feel hungry even when we have eaten enough. It also raises blood sugar and insulin levels and results in increased fat deposition around the abdomen. To further complicate the situation, high cortisol can negatively affect our sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall or stay asleep when we finally do go to bed. This increase in stress hormone also has detrimental effects on other aspects of our endocrine system, like thyroid gland function which governs our metabolism.

A study recently published in the International Journal of Obesity demonstrated a link between the length of time of shift work and abdominal fat. The conclusion was that chronic sleep deprivation could result in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The effects of sleep deprivation are similar to those seen in normal aging; therefore, sleep debt may increase the severity of age-related chronic disorders such as weight gain, elevated cholesterol or triglyceride levels and eventually diabetes and/or heart disease.

Growth hormone released during sleep is also important for fat loss.It is not just lack of sleep that negatively affects body fat percentage and the risk of chronic disease-poor sleep quality does as well. Deep sleep is accompanied by an increased secretion of growth hormone necessary for repairing and rebuilding body tissues like muscle and bone. It also helps to negate the bad effects of cortisol. Growth hormone naturally decreases with age and also with increased abdominal fat, leading to a viscious cycle of fatigue, excess stress hormone and increased abdominal fat.

How do you get a good beauty sleep?
1. Get enough sleep. Seven to nine hours of sleep per night is optimal for adults. Aim to get to bed before 10 or 11 pm as this is the time when the adrenals, our stress glands that release cortisol, recuperate. Make sleep a priority!

2. Improve the quality of your sleep. Do not exercise too late in the evening-it elevates your stress hormones and raises your body temperature which may make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Be sure to sleep in complete darkness to optimize the release of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone which is essential to healthy sleep patterns and it also helps reduce the negative effects of cortisol. See the Truestar Healthy Sleep Tips to discover other methods to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep.

3. Reduce your stress and adopt methods to manage your stress more effectively. Massage, exercise, acupuncture, meditation-even kissing-all are effective ways to reduce levels of stress hormone and certain vitamins and supplements can be useful as well. These include herbs like ashwagandha, Siberian ginseng, relora and plant sterols as well as the supplement phosphatidylserine. Consult the Truestar Stress Page for a complete wellness plan to manage your stress.

4. Regulate blood sugar levels. Eating regularly will avoid swings in blood sugar levels. Do not eat too many carbohydrates like breads or pastas, especially in the evening. Stay away from sugar and excess caffeine and follow a healthy eating plan that balances protein, carbohydrates and fats like the Truestar Nutrition Plan.