There are few things in life that feel better than waking up after a good night’s sleep. And yet, in our stressful, overly busy, overly scheduled lives, sleep tends to be one of the first things we sacrifice. Unfortunately, sleep is every bit as important to your healthy lifestyle as diet and exercise!

If you’ve been struggling to meet your weight loss, fitness, and general life goals, it might be time to take a closer look at your sleep patterns!

A lack of sleep promotes fat storage in your body so no matter what you do in your waking hours to combat this, you aren’t likely to get anywhere. A study from the University of Chicago found that after just 4 nights of sleep deprivation your metabolism takes a beating and your body’s insulin sensitivity is reduced by 30%.  When your insulin production is normal, your body is able to remove lipids and fatty acids from the blood, preventing it from getting stored. When your insulin resistance increases, your body gets stuck in a vicious little cycle. The fat remains in your blood stream and circulates through the body prompting the production of more insulin. This extra insulin causes fat storage all over your body and around the organs, in particular, increasing your risk for many conditions like diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

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And the problems don’t stop there! Lack of sleep can make you feel hungry! When you don’t get enough shut eye, your body is not able to produce enough leptin, the hormone that makes you feel satisfied, while it over produces ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry. To complicate matters, a recent study has suggested that a lack of sleep can actually give you a full blown case of the munchies! While the study was incredibly small, it found that lack of sleep may stimulate the brain in a way that is similar to smoking marijuana!  The researchers examined a small number of 20 somethings and found that the ones who were lacking sleep ate an average of 300 more calories per day than the rested ones. And what’s worse, the sleep deprived participants found themselves craving  sugary, processed, high calorie snacks like chips, or candy bars!

Of course, sleep doesn’t just help you keep your diet on point, it benefits your fitness efforts too! Not getting enough impacts your workout time by seriously impairing the recovery and growth of your muscles. First of all, the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism works and the more fat you burn. Less shut eye means less slow wave sleep. It is during slow wave sleep that your body produces the majority of its human growth hormone which helps your body burn fat and repair muscle. If you are sleep deprived, your body produces more cortisol which not only promotes fat storage but inhibits the production of human growth hormone which means that your already depleted stores will be depleted even further. 

None of this even begins to take into account the way lack of sleep makes you feel! It often impairs your decision making process, making it easier for you to skip your workout and eat some cake, creating a cycle that isn’t exactly conducive to feeling energized, happy, and healthy.

Going to bed at night can not only help you keep your diet and exercise on track, it can help you to feel rested and energized, improve your memory, sharpen your attention and alertness, while increasing creativity, reducing stress and helping you to avoid depression! So come on, don’t fight it, get to bed!

If you find it difficult to drift off into dream land, you’re far from alone. There are so many things in our daily lives that stand in the way of a good night’s rest. If you find yourself struggling, to get to sleep, we’ve got your back! Check out these tips and tricks for a better night’s sleep:

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If you’re someone who needs to have a little snack before hitting the hay, don’t forget to check out this list of foods to eat and foods to avoid!

Do you get enough sleep at night? What’s your secret for a solid sleep?

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