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The Sleep-Hormone Connection


When you sleep, critical hormones are produced that promote weight loss, reduce stress, restore energy, and maintain a healthy metabolism. Lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your hormones and your health. Not getting enough sleep can be the brick wall that keeps you from feeling healthy and whole and managing your hormones. Sleep and hormone balance is a two way street. There is a very clear correlation between sleep loss and hormone dysregualtion.

Sleep is when our bodies heal and replenish from the stresses of the day. We all know that when we get enough sleep, we just feel better, but it goes way beyond that to improve our overall health and well being.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans aren't getting enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep is setting yourself up for sickness, weight gain, bad moods, misfiring hormones, loss of libido, and forgetfulness. Next to nutrition and exercise, adequate sleep is paramount for overall health and hormone balance. Many of our hormones are regulated during this time of restoration.

Hormones are chemical messengers that are released from our body's endocrine glands and travel through the blood to elicit a specific response on another gland, organ, tissue, or cell in our body. These messenger molecules are involved in almost every function of the body, and they are critical to our well-being. The effects of hormones are so far-reaching that they affect virtually every aspect of human health. The endocrine system is sometimes compared to an orchestra. Each hormone is like an instrument. If just one instrument is playing off key, the entire orchestra is affected. The consequences of disrupting the endocrine system are far greater than just making bad music.

 

Hormones Most Affected by Lack of Sleep

Leptin and Ghrelin: Leptin and ghrelin are our fullness and hunger hormones. Leptin promotes a feeling of fullness. If we aren't getting enough sleep, leptin levels decrease and signals our brain to eat more even though you don't actually need food. Ghrelin tells our brains that we are hungry and that we need to eat. When we are sleep deprived, ghrelin levels increase. As a result, too little sleep leads to eating more and gaining weight.

Insulin: Insulin is the hormone that keeps your blood sugar from getting too high or too low. Studies have shown that within just 4 days of insufficient sleep, your body fails to respond to insulin properly and this creates insulin sensitivity. Your blood sugar levels get too high and you begin to store fat. Insulin resistance is a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases.

Cortisol: Cortisol is our stress hormone and is released during stressful events. Once we cope with the situation, cortisol levels should return to normal. The problem is that most of us live such hectic lives and are experiencing unrelenting stress. This elevates cortisol to harmful levels and the result is a nightmare to our health. Sufficient sleep helps to balance cortisol levels. Those who sleep less are also, generally speaking, more likely to be overweight or obese. A lot of this is due to the fact that cortisol slows down while you’re sleeping (cortisol signals the storage of fat). So the less you sleep, the more time during the day your body is releasing cortisol, and the more signals your body is getting to store fat. Studies have shown that excess cortisol leads to abdominal weight gain and salt and sugar craving. If you are heavy around the mid-section, stressed out, and feel wired, yet tired, excess cortisol could be the culprit.

Sleep boosts our Happy SEX Hormones: Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone In Women: Studies show that good sleep is important for healthy sexual desire and arousal in women. Reduced levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are thought to be a primary cause of female loss of libido. And, Yes, women have testosterone, just at much lower levels. Adequate sleep is critical for women to balance their hormones.

Testosterone In Men: Men with poor sleep patterns have significantly lower levels of testosterone, which results in lack of sex drive. Low levels of testosterone levels are also associated with reduced well-being, loss of muscle mass, decreased mood, and overall vigor. Testosterone levels in men decline naturally by 1 to 2 percent a year as a man ages. I recommend increasing testosterone naturally by getting enough sleep, strength training and high intensity interval training (HIIT), supplementing with Vitamin D, eating more healthy fats, and eliminating grains and sugar from your diet.

Sleep increases HGH: Human Growth Hormone - HGH has been called the fountain of youth hormone. HGH builds lean muscle, reduces body fat, improves sexual desire, enhances mood, tightens skin, and increases life expectancy. HGH keeps you lean, energized, feeling sexy and makes you look and feel young. So... where do you get more of that and how can you raise it??? GET MORE SLEEP!

HGH is increased with sufficient sleep, high intensity interval training, strength training, diet concepts, and stress reduction. Generally, HGH is highest during the first part of the night, which is why getting to bed early is important to increase this fat burning hormone of our youth.