Sleep is often referred to as the cornerstone of good health, and for good reason. It's during these hours that our bodies undergo crucial processes for physical and mental well-being. In this log post, I’m going to share the intricate connection between sleep, blood sugar, and hormones.
Imagine your body as a finely-tuned sports car. Like any high performance vehicle, your body requires fuel, and that fuel comes from the food you eat. When you consume carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is then released into the bloodstream. This is where blood sugar levels come into play.
Both the quality and quantity of sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining stable blood sugar levels. When you're sleep-deprived, your body becomes less sensitive to insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar. This can lead to higher blood sugar levels, which, over time, may increase the risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
Hormones are crucial in all of your body's functions. They regulate everything from metabolism to mood. One master hormone is cortisol, often referred to as the "stress hormone." Cortisol levels naturally rise in the morning to help wake you up, and gradually decrease throughout the day, and are at the lowest right before bed. However, chronic sleep deprivation can disrupt this rhythm, leading to elevated cortisol levels even when they should be tapering off.
Sleep also influences hormones that control appetite: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin signals to your brain that you're full, while ghrelin triggers hunger (think of ghrelin like a gremlin scrounging for food!). When you're sleep-deprived, your body produces less leptin and more ghrelin, which can lead to increased appetite and potential overeating.
During deep sleep, your body releases growth hormone, which plays a crucial role in tissue repair, muscle growth, and overall regeneration. Insufficient sleep can impede the production and release of growth hormone, potentially impacting your body's ability to recover and repair.
I hope you now understand how integral sleep is to hormonal health and proper weight management. In fact, many experts agree that weight loss resistance can be exacerbated by poor sleep. If you are eating higher protein and strength training 3x per week but are not seeing changes in body composition, poor sleep could be the culprit!
So where do we go from here? Let’s figure out how to get that quality sleep for hormonal and blood sugar balance!
First of all, establish a consistent sleep schedule. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. I get 7 hours of sleep a night and do really well on that number. Sleep duration is very individual, but try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night!
Next, create a relaxing bedtime routine. Engage in calming activities like reading, gentle stretching, or meditation before bedtime to signal to your body that it's time to wind down. Disengage with your phone! If possible, aavoid screens at least an hour before bed, as the blue light emitted can disrupt your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. Keep it cool, dark, and quiet. Finally, limit caffeine after 12pm as stimulants are known to interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
I hope you now have a better understanding of the intricate relationship between sleep, blood sugar, and hormones. By nurturing healthy sleep habits, you not only support stable blood sugar levels and hormonal balance but also lay the foundation for overall well-being and vitality.