08 Jun Sleep More to Achieve your Goals
Sleep has been the missing link in many peoples health routines for many years, but finally sleep is getting the just it deserves. In the last year sleep has been increasingly studied to find out its true effects on our health and fitness. The number one finding that many of these studies have shown is that a lack of sleep increases stress hormones in the body, specifically the stress hormone cortisol.
So what is cortisol?
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that your body produces when it is put in a stressful situation or detects low blood sugar levels. It allows us to react to a fight or flight stimulus by; increasing blood sugar levels, reducing our immune responses and keeping our brains on high alert.
How can I reduce my cortisol levels?
Sleep for longer – Studies show that people who sleep more during the night tend to be less stressed and are healthier. Cat naps during the day are also a great way of increasing your time sleeping.
Eat more foods high in magnesium – Cacao nibs are high in magnesium, which help to reduce cortisol levels.
Increase Omega 3 fatty acids – Eat more omega 3 fats to help reduce inflammation in the body, which in turn reduces levels of stress hormones.
Enjoy a massage or therapy treatment – Massage is great for relaxing the mind and muscles which has a positive effect on stress and anxiety levels.
Dance more often – Dancing has been shown to help reduce cortisol levels
Laugh more times during the day – Laughter increases happy hormones which has a direct effect on stress levels.
Listen to relaxing Music more often – Music therapy can help reduce cortisol in certain situations.
Reduce caffeine intake – Caffeine puts the body in an alert and adrenal state, which increases hormones involved with stress.
Lower alcohol consumption – Alcohol is a toxin, which the body has to work extra hard to metabolise and expel. This creates a stress response within the body setting off cortisol in the blood.
Loose some body fat – Reducing your weight and body fat levels is one of the most effective ways of reducing your bodies long-term hormonal response to external stressors.
Recent studies into sleep have found that it is actually not so important how long you sleep for but actually how well you sleep whilst your in bed. Quality of sleep has a bigger effect on our health than the actual hours we spend in bed, which was thought to be the most important factor. The golden 8 hours per night is no longer relevant if the 8 hours are broken and disturbed, whereas 6 hours of sound, deep sleep brings more health and stress relief benefits.
So in view of the above information it is clearly important to take your sleep patterns seriously especially if you are looking to loose weight, finish a project, meet a deadline etc. All of these common stressors and challenges can be made easier to deal with through improved sleep.
Until next time,