Take a look at your sleeping habits – Are you getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night or are you just laying in bed? This could be the reason you can’t shift that stubborn belly fat or just don’t have the energy to get through your day.
Sleep is essential to let your body recover, rebuild tissues and repair cells. There 4 stages of sleep that your body goes through. The first three phases are referred to as NREM (non-rapid eye movement) and the fourth is REM (rapid eye movement).
- The first phase of sleep is known as the N1 Phase. In this phase, Melatonin is released, reducing neural activity preparing you for sleep. Phase 1 is usually light sleep where you can be woken easily.
- The next phase is the N2 Phase. Your brain activity reduces further and awareness of your surrounding environment disappears.
- N3 phase then kicks in and takes you into deep sleep. Your body does most of its work to repair and restore energy for the next day in this deep phase of sleep. Growth hormone is now released, a key hormone responsible for metabolising fat and reducing inflammation through the night.
- Finally, REM sleep. This occurs typically 90 minutes after you fall asleep. REM usually lasts 10 minutes in its first stage, getting progressively longer in each following stage with the final stage lasting up to an hour.
If this cycle is disturbed it can have a negative effect on hormones that our bodies need for sleep, energy production, fat loss and many other factors. Lack of sleep can have a profound effect on mental clarity causing you to make bad decisions and even poor food choices.
There are some simple steps you can be take to ensure good sleep:
Get into a routine
Get to bed at a consistent time throughout the week and even on the weekends if possible. This will allow your body to release the right hormones at the right times.
Avoid coffee after lunch
Everyone knows about the buzz caffeine can give you. Caffeine can increase the production of cortisol, which could cause sleeplessness in the evening. Stick to one coffee in the morning or avoid it all together if you are already suffering from stress and/or anxiety. The last thing you want before bed is a caffeine high before bed time.
Get off technology
Blue light in our handheld devices, computers and tablets can influence production of melatonin: a vital hormone for sleep. So stop swiping right, scrolling through selfies and watching cats videos at least an hour before bed!
Get your eating habits in order
Avoid long periods without food by eating every 2-3 hours. This will stop the constant spikes in insulin effecting blood sugar levels. Eating carbohydrates at dinner can also help serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for helping the mind and body to relax and lead us to sleep. But make the right choices – stick to starchy vegetables and avoid high GI and wheat-based products.
Be more active and getting healthier is obviously necessary. Approximately 45mins a day of weight training and cardio should do the job. If stress and sleep is already a problem then try training in the morning. Training in the evening can hinder melatonin production and increase cortisol. Cortisol levels spike in the morning to wake us up. If levels are too high in the evening this may cause sleeplessness.
Improve your sleep and every aspect of life will be much more enjoyable and successful!