The link between sleep, weight, recovery, and many of the other functions of our bodies is becoming more clear each day. Personally, I’ve found if I don’t get a good quality 7 – 8 hours of sleep a night, I just don’t function as well the next day. I got a FitBit One a while back to track my steps. Even more than tracking my steps, I *LOVE* the sleep tracking function. You wear it on a wristband at night (it also has a cool, vibrating silent alarm). I’ll have nights where I know I got 8 – 9 hours of sleep but feel like I got 6. I’ll look at my FitBit app and find out that I was tossing and turning all night. No wonder I don’t feel rested!
When I’m talking with athletes, and really any client, one of the things we cover is sleep. It is when you sleep that your body is able to repair the damage you’ve done from your workouts. Not enough sleep = not good recovery = not good workouts and fatigue and possibly injury.
I read this article by Dr. David Katz today and it give a great recap of some of the current research on sleep and why it is so important. I’d strongly recommend you take a couple of minutes to read it and get an understanding about why sleep is so important. Here’s one of my favorite paragraphs from the article:
Some mechanisms are less apparent, and likely more important. The quantity, quality, and timing of our sleep are tethered to our endocrine system. The circadian rhythms of our hormones influence our capacity to sleep and wake, and are in turn influenced by them. Disruptions in sleep patterns inevitably disturb hormonal balance, which in turn reverberates through the endocrine system like ripples in a pond. Cortisol levels are perturbed, unbalancing levels of insulin, and subsequently, appetite-regulating hormones such as leptin and ghrelin. Brain neurotransmitters, several of which double as hormones, are affected as well, including norepinephrine, and serotonin. The stress of sleep deficiency stimulates epinephrine release. The result in general is increased appetite, an increased tendency to store calories as fat around the middle where it does the most harm, increased inflammation, and the initial steps toward insulin resistance.
I know when I’m short on sleep, I’m craving sugar. I know I crave (and end up eating) sugar because I’m trying to stay awake. If you find yourself craving sugar and starchy carbs, ask yourself how you slept. If you don’t think you’re sleeping well, consider one of the sleep monitoring tools like a FitBit or Lark (there are others out there, too). And, get some sleep!