Last week my trainer was on my case to sleep more than my standard four to six hours per night plus cat naps when I could. (Here’s the whole story: Go the Eff to Sleep, Said my Trainer)
So I made a concerted effort to get at least seven (7) hours of sleep per night. To liven things up I preemptively bought myself a really cute pole dance outfit as a reward to motivate me for completing the task.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that I’ve had bouts of insomnia on and off since I was a kid, so sleeping a full seven hours was a bit of a challenge for me.
While it’s true that some of my insomnia is due to an overactive brain that doesn’t want to shut off, it’s also fair to say that a big portion of my insomnia is self-inflicted.
Here are some of the reasons I stay up too late:
- My husband and I will relax by binge watching TV shows until 2 a.m. (In my defense, we really are in a new golden age of television.)
- Did I mention that when I watch TV, I also eat buttered popcorn and drink Diet Coke? Ask me if it’s a good idea to drink caffeine if you are trying to sleep. (It is not.)
- After I finish an evening workout with my friend, Obidia, we end up sitting in the sauna and chitchatting for an extra half hour (until after 10 pm.)
- I procrastinate doing my accounting stuff for my real estate business until after the kids go to bed ’cause, let’s face it, paperwork isn’t fun.
- Sometimes when I’m checking for one email I somehow get sidetracked and end up taking personality tests on Facebook instead. (FYI – I’m a Type A with a flair for creativity, apparently.)
Thus I embarked on my seven hours a night quest. I’m happy to report that I was victorious! Yay! Hello cute new outfit! But I also noticed some direct benefits of more sleep.
- Weight Loss. I was stuck in a plateau for most of this month, but getting extra sleep helped me get past this. Lack of bedtime TV carbs, fat and caffeine snacking aside, there is a scientific reason for this weight loss.
According to WebMD, when you are sleep deprived it effects two hormones called ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin tells your body it’s time to eat. When you’re sleepy your body makes more of it, causing you to be hungry. Leptin tells your body when it’s time to stop eating. When you’re tired your leptin levels plummet, causing you to eat more. But when you get enough sleep, these hormones balance out.
- More Work Productivity. In a study by the BBC, researchers found that participants who gained just one hour of sleep were able to better concentrate. While you are sleeping your brain is working, shifting items from your short-term memory to your long-term memory. This allows more space for new short-term memory items, so you don’t have to (hypothetically) write little reminders for yourself on post it notes. In my own case I was able to get through more paperwork during regular hours, which reduced my stress. Also, it gave me time to read magazines about becoming more organized.
- More Muscle Definition. According to an article about sleep and muscle recovery in LiveStrong, sleep allows more blood and oxygen flow to repair your muscle tears and your pituitary gland releases growth hormone with stimulates muscle growth. And since I’m in a bicep growth competition with my friend this month, I need all the muscle gain help I can get!
So, yes, my official reward was a new outfit, but the benefits from more sleep were the real reward for the week.
Now go to bed. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two. Her book, “She’s Losing It!” is available at Amazon.com.
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