Sleep your way to health
by Clint Grove
Sleep and your blood sugar levels
Blood sugar levels, I mean what is the big deal anyway? For some of you health geeks out there who want to know the details, according to Dave Asprey (whom you will hear me quote a lot!) Chronic high blood sugar will eventually lead to diabetes. Who the hell wants that!? Certainly not me, and I’m sure neither do you!
You do not want spikes or troughs in the amount of glucose running through your blood. What you want is a nice balance, never going to high and never going too low. 1 of the 7 ways you can do this is by getting better quality sleep
You may not know this but some of your health issues could be stemming from a lack of quality sleep. Are you struggling to lose weight, low motivation, no joy, maybe you have brain fog or lack of energy? It may be sleep-related, but of course, nothing is entirely something else’s fault, but it may be something you might want to consider fixing.
Sleep is one of the 7 ways in which you can help to balance your blood sugar levels. I will list several ways to help you get better sleep, and I will speak about why it is so important to your overall health and how it can shape your body, and when I mean shape your body I also mean losing weight, yes you can lose weight when you get good quality sleep! And to top it off it can radically improve your mood.
We have to talk about mitochondria, but what’s all this talk about mitochondria? (or maybe you have never heard of it before!), it sounds like a disease, hahah, but seriously its the power plants of your cells, the very things that create the energy that keep you alive. They take hits when your sleep is bad. And you don’t want your little mito’s to take hits, that shit will age you before you need to be aged.
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Minerals and vitamins for good sleep
Sleep is one of the most important factors for staying healthy
I was listening to Shawn Stevenson on Health Theory and he said that sleep was more important than diet, which made me immediately think, no that cannot be true!
But then I realised he used a shocking statement to get people’s attention! Admittedly something I do myself at times and of course, Shawn went on to mention that good food is critical in the quality of your sleep! The reason I thought, no that is not true when I first heard it is because I thought back to the book Super Human by Dave Asprey, and in one of his chapters, he speaks about the direct correlation between what you eat during the day and your sleep quality at night. For example, eating a heavy meal just before bed is definitely going to give you poor quality sleep, even if you don’t wake up, the REM and deep sleep you get will not be long enough and the quality will not be as good.
So I went to go look at Shawn Stevenson’s website and I saw that he has a PDF handout you can get for free, the 5 essential nutrients for better sleep! And then I thought, yes now that makes sense, our bodies makeup and current level of balance will directly affect our sleep. If you are intrigued about these nutrients, they are Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 K2 and Calcium (these need to be taken in conjunction with each other to work properly), Potassium, Magnesium and Omega 3’s (wild-caught fatty fish is the best)
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Cortisol the stress hormone
When you haven’t had a good nights sleep your cortisol rises, cortisol actually provides the body with glucose by tapping into protein stores via gluconeogenesis in the liver, a good thing if you need to get out a sticky situation fast! But bad if you are trying to balance your blood sugar levels, spikes in blood sugar levels come with all of its harmful effects, such as weight gain, insulin resistance, heart attacks, high blood pressure, depression, osteoporosis, decreased immune function, and more, shocking I know.
A lack of sleep also increases the hormone ghrelin, which is known as the hunger hormone. This is produced predominantly by the stomach. This hormone also acts on the pleasure centre of the brain, which can prompt you to reach for more food than you need. When you are tired, you are more likely to make poor decisions, doubt yourself, and feel foggy-brained or anxious.
Factors that can influence the quality and quantity of sleep are:
• Eating late at night
• Consuming caffeine after 2 pm
• Doing brain stimulating work before bed
• Surfing the net or scrolling through social media before bed
• Charging electronics near your bed
• Watching anything stimulating, such as the news
Resourced from: Health Coach Institute (Become a health coach)
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The Power-down hour
Have you heard of the power-down hour? The idea goes that, 1 hour before you plan to go to bed you put the TV off, you don’t surf the web or browse social media, basically, no more screen time, make your way to your bedroom, brush your teeth on the way, maybe light a candle (guys, I know I know, that’s for girls right!? But get in touch with your feminine side for me here) or have one of those fancy Himalayan salt rock lamps (gives off a reddish amber light) and make sure you block out any outside light from street lamps and neighbours annoying security lights that go off every time a cat walks past of the wind blows the trees! I mean seriously (pet peeve).
Clean your room (sounds like a lot of work right!) and then ease into bed and have a chat with your loved one, or yourself if you are single! and just before you are about to dose off think about how “boss” you were today, how you owned it at your workout session, and also think about how shitty you were to someone and how you are going to fix yourself by only 1% for the better tomorrow and get some shut-eye.
It’s a novel idea and in theory, it is great, in practice, you may find it really difficult or, if you are a morning person you might find this way easy.
The power-down hour is meant to be a routine that is flexible so that it can continue to grow and evolve with you. This routine will also help you get to sleep at a regular time consistently, which will help reset your circadian rhythm.
Many experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night as optimal but biohackers recommend 6 ½ hours only.
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Chemicals that make you sleepy
Let’s talk about melatonin and why you need to make it dark at night time. Melatonin is a chemical produced by your brain and tells you its time to get to freaking sleep. It has powerful anti-ageing, free-radical fighting antioxidants. So if you want to stay looking and feeling young it’s important to not over stimulate your body with artificial light as melatonin is like a vampire, it gets busy in the dark! Make sure your phone has night shift set on it, and if you really want to go to the next level then get some blue light blocking glasses to watch TV with.
Melatonin coincides or works alongside the circadian rhythm, this rhythm coordinates a natural ebb and flow of different bodily processes happening at specific points throughout the day such as metabolism, immunity, sex drive, cognitive functions and so on.
Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland and sends a signal to regulate the sleep-wake cycle in the sleep centre of the brain. Melatonin (this magic get to sleep chemical) builds up about 9 pm or so. It is also involved in weight loss. I mean how weird and cool is this, it increases brown adipose tissue (BAT) mass (brown fat that helps you deal with the cold as well)
“During the day the pineal is inactive. When the sun goes down and darkness occurs, the pineal is “turned on” by the suprachiasmatic nucleus and begins to actively produce melatonin, which is released into the blood. Usually, this occurs at around 9 pm. As a result, melatonin levels in the blood rise sharply and you begin to feel less alert.”
Supercharge your sleep
Think about what you are putting into your body. Is what you are putting in nutrient-dense or deficient?
Align your sleep times with the circadian rhythm. Try to get to bed by 10 pm
Light and darkness, it needs to be dark when you sleep, and you need to try to go outside during the day (for at least a few minutes). Get blue light blocking glasses to help you build up melatonin instead of running it down.
Exercise in the morning. It is a far superior time to get moving, it promotes deeper sleep, creates more human growth hormone, aids in longer and more efficient sleep cycles which results in 25% greater blood pressure drop, and it also promotes less flight or flight response in your body. Try doing HIIT or Tabata for just 5 minutes every morning.
Sources of info
“Shawn Stevenson – Impact Theory.” 12 Nov. 2018, https://impacttheory.com/episode/shawn-stevenson/.
Melatonin: Not a Magic Bullet for Sleep – The Sleep Doctor.” 8 Feb. 2011, https://thesleepdoctor.com/2011/02/08/melatonin-not-a-magic-bullet-for-sleep/.
“Melatonin and Sleep – National Sleep Foundation.” https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/melatonin-and-sleep.