Friday, May 15, 2015

Sleep is ESSENTIAL just like training and nutrition!

Sleep ..

It's essential yet many of us do NOT get enough.. me included. Many of us fall into 2 different categories:
-I can't fall asleep because I am to wired at night
-I fall asleep but wake up feeling like i didn't sleep at all
Sleep is all hormonal and in a domino effect! Once it goes down then come the cravings, moodiness, missed workouts, and the downward spiral continues!
We all know that we need to be sticking to a sleep schedule: Going to bed around the same time EVERY night Trying to avoiding caffeine too late in the day and not surfing the web or checking Facebook about an hour prior to going to sleep so the LED lights don't interrupt your sleep patterns !
Sleep problems can be more serious such as sleep apnea or other sleep disorders But the bulk of us are not having pathological sleep issues, instead, we’re having cortisol issues and thus, blood sugar problems.
Cortisol’s job is to raise your blood sugar during any type of stress, including a fight with your boss, skipping breakfast, a spin class, etc. Your body calls on cortisol (and adrenaline) to release stored sugar to keep you going. Hence, fight or flight. Cortisol has a natural rhythm of output: lowest at bedtime, rising throughout the night and highest around 5am.At least, that’s what should happen. Unfortunately, many of us have abnormal secretion in terms of timing and amount of cortisol.While cortisol’s job is to get blood sugar up, insulin’s job is to get it down.
Insulin is released when we eat, but insulin is also released when cortisol is high, because if cortisol is high then blood sugar will soon be high, too. There is a fine balance that needs to be found between the two. Cortisol increases with chronic stress and insulin stops responding.Thus this stops letting glucose easily into the cell, causing us to secrete more insulin to get the message across. Higher blood sugar happens after eating along with higher insulin secretion as we release until we finally get it down to a normal level.
Often, this overshoots the mark and then we need cortisol to come in and level us out. You can see where imbalance in one of these hormones quickly causes an imbalance in the other.
So what does this have to do with sleep ?
Cortisol and, even more so, adrenaline, are stimulating hormones and can keep us awake. With insulin resistance, particularly if we stress that insulin system too much with a big dinner, or too many, or not enough carbs at our last meal, it’s easy to have higher cortisol come bed time.This can leave us with a racing mind, having us lay awake for hours trying to fall asleep.
Like any hormone, cortisol has to be just right. High cortisol can keep us from falling asleep, but low cortisol throughout the night will prevent us from staying asleep. This may sound a bit complicated, but to fix the issue is pretty straight forward: manage blood sugar throughout the day and sleep better, because it helps these hormones stay in a good balance.

However, while you’re working to eat regularly, ensure enough protein and veggie fiber for nice level blood sugar, and avoid sugar and alcohol which make your insulin spike then crash.
You need/want to sleep better tonight, don’t you?
Here are a few nutrition tips for managing both sides of this troubled sleep issue:
- If you have a hard time FALLING asleep try a moderate carb dinner – think vegetables and protein, plus enough carbs to restore glycogen that are slow releasing.

-If you have a difficult time staying asleep you should consider a bedtime snack as a regular habit. This mini-meal should consist of protein, veggies for fiber, and a small amount of starch or sugar (such as 1/3 cup sweet potato or a small apple). This type of sleep issue really needs a well rounded snack closer to bedtime.

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