Status, Day 37:
SW: 470 TW: 398.2 TWL: 71.8 lbs Lbs to Goal: 173.2
The book of Proverbs, Chapter 6:9-11a says “How long will you lay there you sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a thief.
That may all be so, in fact I do believe it to be true. I was raised by very industrious parents who believed with all their heart that if you slept passed 7 you were “burning daylight”. So, for as long as I can remember, we were up and at the breakfast table by 6:00am. For nearly 20 years of my career I was a morning DJ at various radio stations, that meant I was up around 4am and on the air by 6. I never thought much of sleep.
While the proverb may be true, so is a related corollary. Not enough sleep, and even sleep during the wrong periods of the day, set you up for obesity – among myraid other conditions exacerbated by sleep deprivation.
Think you are getting enough sleep? Don’t ask yourself, the reality is blocked by our preconceptions. Instead, ask your body. If you sleep past your normal time on your day off, or if you can’t get up without the aid of an alarm clock, you are sleep deprived.
Many people claim that they can get along on 6 or fewer hours of sleep a night. Researchers have even found a gene responsible for this character trait. Guess what? You don’t have it.
How can I be so sure? According to research fewer than 3% of us have the gene. The rest of us? Well, we need between 8 and 9 hours per night.
Why is sleep so important, especially because we’re “just sleeping”, right? I admit, the workaholic in me thinks that sleep is a waste of time. However, while you are asleep your body is very busy; very busy, indeed.
If you own a car, I assume that you take it in for maintenance, right? Without routine maintenance, your vehicle will become sluggish, full of pollutants, and will not last nearly as long. Your body is very similar. The maintenance visit for your body is once a day, in bed.
Here are just a few of the things that your body did for you last night while you were asleep:
- Filtered waste material (detox)
- Regulated aging
- Cleaned, removed or repaired diseased, damaged, or unhealthy cells
- Reparative hormones were released
- Chemicals were released in the brain that actually improved mood and made you more optimistic
- Melatonin was regulated
- Thoughts, memories, and ideas were stored and catalogued for retrieval
- The body de-stressed
Those last two are very important because Cortisol is a hormone that is commonly released as part of a stress response in the body. Cortisol does not know what type of stress you are under – whether it is a deadline at the office or you are facing a drought or famine. So, one of cortisol’s jobs is to help provide your body with the tools to get through stress periods. For that, your body thinks you need energy and the only way your body has of storing energy is in the form of fat. So guess what? Don’t get enough sleep – don’t take enough time to de-stress and unwind or relax…you’re gonna get fat. In addition, cortisol can lead to high blood pressure, the inability to regulate blood sugar – a possible link to diabetes, and memory impairment.
It seems counterintuitive. It seems like if I was up and moving around I would be burning more calories, right? Well, that is where circadian rhythms and melatonin come in. Melatonin is released at various times of the day, in part, due to our natural rhythms and, in part, in response to daylight. Melatonin make you feel sleepy and prepares you for rest.
You can fight it off. But when you do, you become subject to melatonin’s other side-effects. Ever stay up late and get the late night munchies? Well, it isn’t just because it has been a few hours since your last meal; it is because the melatonin is telling you to eat. But not just eat as in eat anything…say, like an apple. To fight off the sleep your body needs energy and lots of it. In biological math, carbs and fats have the most calories (energy) per gram consumed. So, when the cravings hit, your body naturally directs you to high-carb, high-fat foods.
Now you know why Taco Bell actually sounds good at midnight and why their “Fourth Meal” campaign has been such a marketing success. At 1,230 calories their loaded grilled steak burrito has all of the “energy” you could need. In fact, couple it with a Large Coke and a side of chips and salsa or chips and cheese and you have the normal calorie needs for an adult for an ENTIRE DAY.
It is not only important how much you sleep, but when. Research is beginning to show that hormones are released at different times of the day (circadian rhythms). Some of these hormones make us sleepy (melatonin) some of them make us ready for fight or flight (cortisol). Ever stayed up very late and finally got your “second wind” and felt like you could stay up all night? That was actually cortisol and it was being released to counter the melatonin and to start rousing our bodies and prepare them for activity as we rise.
For most people, this transition takes place between 1:30 and 3:00 am. This partially explains the axiomatic saying “An hour’s worth of sleep before midnight is worth two after.” You are under the complete control of the melatonin and the natural cycle of sleep in the hours prior to and just after midnight. After that, your body has to fight to stay asleep and to enter periods of REM sleep as it is exposed to levels of cortisol.
My next goal on my journey is to try to be in bed by 11 pm. With school and a decade of bad habits that may be tough, perhaps even tougher than juicing. But I do know this, what I have been doing ain’t working so why not try something new!
So, I raise my glass of mean green and propose a toast to sleep.
Juice On; Join the Journey.