Saturday, September 4, 2010

Asleep Easy to Lose Weight

How can you fall asleep easy to lose weight? Sleep isn’t the first thing you consider when losing weight, but getting enough quality sleep should be a part of your weight loss plan. When your body is functioning well it will fight against fat by suppressing cortisol. When you don’t get enough sleep due to high stress levels a chemical reaction occurs. High stress levels trigger a “survival mode” thus producing cortisol which tells our body to save up fat for difficult times ahead. This survival mode has been inbreed due to times when food was scarce. Today there are other causes for stress; the economy, your bills, responsibilities and/or family obligations.

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The media also causes us stress due to its self imposed representations on how we are supposed to look and how we eat. Dieting can trigger the survival mode because we are eliminating calories too fast. The stress to create the perfect body image and dieting/fasting results in higher belly fat producing cortisol. Stress also stimulates cravings for sweet, calorie dense foods and salty, high carbohydrate snacks. If you want to lose weight especially belly fat, slow down and enforce a healthy diet plan. Over time you will lose your weight. This also allows your body to release feel good chemicals or endorphins that contribute to your feeling more positive about your body image.

As we age we naturally produce more cortisol while we reduce our levels of DHEA, testosterone and estrogen which accelerates our cartilage, bone and muscle loss. At midlife, we first feel our aging bodies start to ache as DHEA production falls, cortisol rises, and suddenly, we no longer have the same energy or endurance we once took for granted.

If you exercise it is also important for you to get enough sleep as this is the time when your muscle can repair themselves. Weight training causes tiny tears in your muscle tissue and sleep is when your muscles can rebuild and gain strength. The rebuilt muscles make up the lean muscle mass in your body and the greater the muscle mass the faster you will burn calories even when you are sleeping. The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep each night. So if you want to fall asleep easy to lose weight and fight cortisol be sure you are getting enough sleep.

You can you make sure you are getting enough sleep by reviewing the amount of sleep you get on a regular basis. Try to avoid stimuli at least an hour before retiring that causes you to stay awake such as; video games, caffeine, TV, alcohol, spicy or too much food, computer time or homework. The hour before bed should be relaxing try taking a bath, reading a book, light yoga stretches, journaling and/or having a cup of decaffeinated sleepy time tea. If you have difficulty falling asleep there are many herbal supplements on the market such as GABA for stress and Valerian for drowsiness. It is better to try a supplement verses a prescription due to many sleeping aides are addictive and have other side effects. Some doctors recommend a Melatonin supplement for those with low melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body's circadian rhythms or our sleep/wake cycle. It is best to discuss your sleeping problem with your doctor as some supplements can interfere with other medication or medical issues.

Your bedroom should also be a place that helps you to fall asleep. It should be dark, quiet, cool, cozy and preferably pet free. If you are a light sleeper and the next door neighbor’s dog is keeping you awake buy some ear plug or white noise to drown out the barking. A fan or mellow music can work just as well. Heavy black out curtains or an eye mask can keep the light out especially in the morning. Cortisol production is naturally at its highest in the early morning because one of its beneficial functions is to help you wake up. People that are stressed overproduce cortisol during the day so their cortisol is low in the morning instead of high. Caffeine can artificially trigger a spike in cortisol levels. Hugh cortisol surges cause you to over eat. When you over eat you have higher body fat, lower muscle mass and reduced metabolism to burn fewer calories. Higher cortisol levels at night will keep you from entering Stage 4 sleep, the deep sleep that is required to rebuild and repair your body.

Studies have shown there is a huge difference between getting 7-8 hours of sleep verses 6 or less when it comes to cortisol production. Researchers have found that people with 6 hours or less have 50% more cortisol in their bloodstream than those that slept 7-8 hours. You can fall asleep easy without stressing about your weight by getting the proper amount of sleep and living a healthy lifestyle.

Besides getting enough sleep there are nutritional ways to reduce your cortisol levels.

Whole Grains

Unprocessed whole-grains are an excellent method for leveling food intake and curbing the release of cortisol in the body. Whole grains contain fiber and nutrients that help keep the body's blood sugar levels steady; they should be considered a mainstay of any healthy diet. Processed and refined flours are not only less nutritious compared to richer whole grains, they are empty carbohydrates that decrease blood sugar and cause cortisol to spike.

Protein and Fats

Along with whole grains, an equal portion of protein is required to balance the system and keep cortisol production at normal levels. Eating moderate doses of protein, such eggs, meat, poultry and fish slows down carbohydrate absorption, reduces sugar levels and balances cortisol in the blood. Unsaturated fats from olive oil or nuts also slow carbohydrate digestion aid the body in feeling full and work with the proteins to cut cortisol production.


Eggs are a low-glycemic index food that lowers Cortisol. They are also high in omega fatty acids, which can have stress-relieving properties.

Oily Fish

Oily fish, such as snapper and salmon, lower cortisol levels and are also high in protein and omega fatty acids.

A diet rich in organic vegetables and fruits:

Many vegetables, especially the green leafy variety, balance blood sugar levels and regulate metabolic rates. Since cortisol is released at stress-filled moments when blood sugar is high or the metabolism is sent into overdrive through adrenaline release, the benefits of vegetables in the diet to curb cortisol is clear.

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Berries have high levels of vitamin C, which fights against cortisol buildup in the body.

Oranges are also high in vitamin C and eliminate cortisol, making them a great stress-relieving snack.

Healthy snacks such as granola, raisins, almonds or dried cranberries are good for avoiding cravings for sweets and lowering cortisol.

NOTE: Even drinking 2-3 cups of coffee per day can elevate cortisol levels. Avoid caffeine drinks to reduce cortisol levels! Avoid alcoholic drinks other than a glass of wine in the evening.

The content provided is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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