Sleep is a crucial part of our body’s stress recovery process. Stress is anything that our body perceives as disruptive to its homeostasis and then our brain and body will attempt to adapt or overcome the stressor. And if you are a human being, you probably experience stress on some level! Whether that is a physical stress we choose such as exercise or intense training, or emotional and psychological stressors such as anxiety and worry, as the body works through the stressor it requires a period of recovery in order to recoup and repair.
Good quality sleep can help us lose fat, gain muscle, regulate blood sugar and blood lipids, regulate hormones, get rid of waste products and regulate hunger and appetite. Conversely, not getting good sleep has the opposite effect on us!
This is because both our circadian clocks and our sleep-wake cycles organize and regulate many body functions such as body temperature, heart rate and rhythms, hormone release, immunity and tissue repair, mood and emotion, energy and alertness and so on. Throughout the day and night these clocks and cycles switch on and off to ensure you get what you need at the times you need it. Most of the repair, rebuilding and recouping happens during the time you sleep.
Even the adipose tissue (or we lovingly call them fat cells) respond to circadian cycles that impact their cell’s clocks and cause the cells to do different things at different times. If your body’s circadian cycle is disrupted because of poor or lack of sleep, then the adipose cells will not get the correct messages and, in turn, not turn on the processes that break down fat for energy which causes you to store more fat and burn less!
Wow! So what can help?!?! Pre-sleep rituals can be very helpful to create the highest probability that your body will be able to get good sleep. They include:
- Listening to calming music
- Turning off stimulating electronics
- Journaling to transfer the days concerns to paper so your brain does not have to continue to attend to them
- Deep breathing, yoga or other form of relaxation practice
- Dimming lights prior to sleep time
- Drinking herbal, caffeine free tea in evening
Try implementing just one or two pre-sleep practices and see if they help you get better sleep. And remember, that in order to repair and recoup, your body also needs the nutrients from non-processed, whole foods so what you eat and drink during the day will also have a big impact on how well your body recovers from the stressors it deals with!