How To Sleep Like A Baby (And Wake Up Feeling Like A Boss)
The modern American lifestyle, with its hectic schedules and enormous stress loads, has made sleep a rare (and precious) commodity for a lot of people.
However, if you're trying to lose weight and improve your health (and just have loads of energy), you've got to make it a priority.
If you don't, new research shows you may see all your weight loss and longevity efforts
hampered, or worse - rendered completely ineffective.
In addition to our sleep/cortisol discussion from the previous chapter, here's a bit more on the science behind proper rest. Think of it as "Sleep 101".
Your body naturally regulates your sleep according to something called your circadian
rhythm. In the morning when it gets lighter, your body starts releasing adrenaline and dopamine while reducing its output of chemicals like melatonin and serotonin. At night, it does the opposite, ostensibly to help you relax and get ready for a good night's sleep.
Throughout the course of a night, we move in and out of five different stages of sleep:
Stage 1: You know that place where you're lying down, you've closed your eyes and
you're feeling drowsy, but you still feel like you're awake? That's actually the first
stage of sleep - and it's the one that it's most easy to be roused from.
Stage 2: This is the place where you've just become unconscious, your brain activity
has slowed down, and your muscles have really started to relax. Your breathing and
heart rate slow down, and your body temperature drops a little bit.
Stages 3 and 4: These are closely related, but they are distinct stages because the
third stage is preparatory for the fourth stage. In the third stage, the body paralyzes
its skeleton and muscles, the brain loses any awareness of its surrounding environment, and the metabolism grinds to a halt.
In the fourth stage, your body's growth hormone peaks, accelerating healing and
providing recovery for muscles exhausted during the day's activity. When you're pursuing a weight loss program, it's important to get as much stage 4 sleep as possible
so your body can achieve the results you're looking for.
Stage 5: REM sleep - also known as Rapid Eye Movement sleep. This is the part of
your slumber where your eyes move back and forth quickly behind your eyelids, and
you dream very vividly. During this time, your heartbeat and breathing quicken and
your blood pressure rises.
Sleep and Weight Loss
Sleep is incredibly important for building lean muscle, which is the primary engine of your metabolism and accelerates your efforts to lose weight and look your best.
While you're sleeping, your body recovers its strength and energy, repairs the microscopic tears you've made in your muscles during working out (thereby making them stronger and leaner) and floods your blood with growth hormones and various other body-fortifying compounds.
For example, your brain also uses sleep time to rebuild neurotransmitters and receptors that relay chemicals crucial to exercise, such as dopamine, acetylcholine and adrenaline. These chemicals also help with motivation, energy, attention and focus. When you're working out every day, you deplete your brain's ability to make and process these chemicals, and the only way to get your "flow" back over time is to get your sleep.
Sleep and Your Overall Well-Being
That said, it's not just important to get enough sleep so you can lose weight - you also need to sleep for your mental well-being, the strength of your immune system and many other essential biochemical functions your body performs every day.
Not getting enough sleep has been linked to depression, higher risk of minor and major diseases, heart problems and weight gain. As mentioned, it also leads to higher cortisol levels, increased stress levels (and less ability to deal with stress) and disrupts your normal hormone production.
How To Get the Most Out of Sleep
It's more important to sleep well than to sleep a lot, but sleeping between seven and eight hours a night (max of 9 hours) gives your body a chance to hit all the necessary cycles it needs to do its job.
The environment in which you sleep is also crucial to not only your ability to fall asleep, but how well you'll stay asleep once there. No human being ever slept consistently in a completely quiet and dark environment - we've always had the moon and stars, and there's always been wind in the trees and animal noises out in the darkness. But things have definitely gotten much more bright and noisy in the last century or so.
We now cope with many more distractions and bright lights at night that interfere with our natural circadian rhythms. So, the closer you can get to perfect dark and perfect quiet, the better you'll sleep. This is because the lower light levels there are, the more melatonin you'll produce, and the quieter things are, the less distractions your brain will have keeping it alert.
What does this mean for us?
Well, one of the best ways to ensure you'll get a good nights' rest is to prime yourself for sleep in the crucial two hours before bedtime.
Below are some tips to maximize your potential for sleep in the final hours of the day. Use these in conjunction with the tips from the last chapter ("7 Common Sense Ways To Have An Uncommon Peace of Mind").
Interested in losing weight? Then click below to see the exact steps I took to lose weight and keep it off for good...
Moving forward, there are several other articles/topics I'll share so you can lose weight even faster, and feel great doing it.
Below is a list of these topics and you can use this Table of Contents to jump to the part that interests you the most.