Did you start this year with a goal to eat better, exercise more or lose weight?
What if we told you that one of the best things you can do to achieve all these things was simply to get a good nights sleep?
We all know that we're more likely to make bad food choices or struggle to bounce out of bed in time for that 6am yoga class when we're tired, but recent studies have shown even more reasons to aim for a regular 8 hour rest if we want to reach our wellness goals.
Research has shown a direct link between getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
Ongoing sleep deprivation (even just a couple of hours less than your body needs a night) can interfere with our metabolism in lots of ways, but one of the most significant is altering the way our bodies process glucose while we sleep. This can lead to insulin resistance, meaning we naturally store unused glucose as fat, or in extreme cases even trigger type 2 diabetes.
In addition to a messed up metabolism sabotaging your weight loss goals before you even start your new healthy eating plan, a lack of sleep can also play havoc with hormones that regulate your appetite.
The hormones Leptin and Ghrelin work in conjunction to help your body know when and what it needs to eat. They keep your appetite in check while you sleep so you don't wake in the middle of the night hungry, as well as help to keep cravings in check during the day. Disruptions to your ideal sleep pattern can throw these hormones and consequently your appetite out of balance. Best laid plans go out the window and that salad you brought for lunch is sitting untouched in the fridge while you take a trip to the burger bar down the road from work!!
When it comes to exercise, growth hormones which are needed to help us recover from muscle strain, are produced while we sleep. Not enough sleep, and our bodies don't recover properly overnight.
In addition, scientists from Brazil found that sleep debt decreases protein synthesis (your body’s ability to make muscle), causes muscle loss, and can lead to a higher incidence of injuries putting you on the back foot with your fitness goals before you even start!
The great news is that of all the things you can do for your overall wellness, getting a good nights sleep takes the least amount of actual effort!
Try turning off the TV an hour earlier in favour of a soothing bath, ditch electronic devices from the bedside table and make your bedroom a space you can't wait to get into each night.
Good luck chasing your wellness dreams this year!