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Why your sleep needs to become a priority

Underrated by many but actually one of the biggest parts to any journey and i’d argue it is equally as important as your Nutrition and more important than Exercise. Sleep deprivation is directly linked to chronic illness and is a huge player in the onset of Type 2 diabetes. You’ve probably heard someone say ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ or ‘No rest for the wicked’ and i’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge I have many of times used this.

Chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to increase cortisol levels, ie your bodies stress. With chronic sleep deprivation this engages ‘fight or flight’ mode within your body, your body has perceived a threat, ie lack of sleep, and has now began a normal response to the threat. Engaging your sympathetic nervous response (bad) decreasing your parasympathetic nervous tone (rest and digest) an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and circulating glucose means your body isn’t functioning optimally, playing into energy availability & irregular hunger hormones. This leads to a lack of movement, and a decrease in the fullness signalling from your leptin hormone. Now leptin has a direct communication back to the brain, within the brain we have a blood brain barrier and the only macronutrient that can get past this is a carbohydrate, therefore sleep deprivation increases your cravings for carbohydrate foods. With our environment this increases the brains demand for sugary dense foods. Fun fact, if you lived in China / Japan you would crave sugary dense foods.

A craving is built up from a restriction of something, in this case sleep, and our environment dictates the food in which we crave. Furthermore, if we are sleep deprived this plays into our REM cycle of sleep which can be seen as your ‘emotional first aid’ impacting mood and cognition for many. Quality of sleep is therefore equally as important as quantity.

Research shows those who are sleep deprived tend to eat on average 400-700kcals per day than those who are well rested. Your body actually burns more calories resting than it does in a gym session. Getting your sleep pattern sorted will have only positive outcomes on any health journey, opting for at least 7 hours a night. Side note - You can ‘bank’ sleep to a certain extent, if you regularly get good sleep and notice one night with poor quality / quantity there seems to be no real affects providing good sleep is met relatively soon afterwards.


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