Tag Archive | Sleep

Metabolism? What Does That Do?

What is metabolism? Metabolism is the chemical process in our body that breaks down food. Energy is made available. Having a poor and slow metabolism is often associated with being overweight. However having a poor metabolism isn’t the reason to blame to being overweight. The main causes for being overweight includes poor nutrition, limited exercise and not enough sleep. These three factors are directly linked with the health of your metabolism.

Exercise is the safest form and the greatest way to increase your metabolism. In fact the best way to increase your metabolism is to include both weight training and cardio in your fitness routines. Although doing cardio burns more calories than weight training, weight training has greater after effects.  Muscle cells require much more energy than fat cells which means muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells throughout the day.

 Nutrition has a large impact on one’s metabolism as well. Think of your body as being a well-designed efficient vehicle. If you don’t provide the right fuel and/or the right amount of fuel for your vehicle, it’s bound to have problems. The same can be said among ourselves. If you’re eating poorly and not eating enough you’re more likely to have some health concerns or problems like being overweight. Eating several small meals throughout the day helps to keep blood sugar levels steady which prevents insulin spikes in the body by weight gain. Eating breakfast helps to increase metabolism because after sleeping for several hours your body needs fuel again to get started. By skipping breakfast your body’s metabolism doesn’t work hard to break down and convert food to energy. So by the next time you eat, your body is more likely to hold onto calories which equates to less calories burned. As well you’re more likely to binge and have a big lunch and bigger meals throughout the day.

There several things you can eat to help increase your metabolism. Foods containing omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon or tuna help to increase metabolism because they balance the body’s blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation. Recent research has shown that drinking green tea is also linked with increased metabolism because green tea contains catechins that improve fat oxidation. This leads to more caloric expenditure during the day. As well remember to carefully look at the food labels and ensure no added sugar.

Lastly, sleep is an important factor when considering your metabolism. Being sleep deprived is linked to increase caloric intake as a way for the body to feel “more awake”. Also not getting enough sleep increases appetite, and often the food choice is something high in carbohydrates. Sleep is needed in order for muscles to grow, so if you’re not getting enough sleep your lean muscle mass will grow at a slower rate.

So when considering your metabolism, remember to keep in mind these three key things. One exercise, exercise, exercise!  Remember to weight train and do some cardio! Two, consider your nutrition; “you are what you eat!” what you put into your body is what you get out of your body. Three, get enough sleep! Your body needs rest and being sleep deprived increases craving to binge! Working on all three of these areas will help to increase your metabolism and increase your health! 

Sources:

http://www.canadianliving.com/health/nutrition/top_5_ways_to_boost_your_metabolism_naturally_2.php

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/01/18/boost-metabolism_n_2498854.html#slide=1996388

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20306911_3,00.html

http://thyroid.about.com/od/loseweightsuccessfully/a/metabolism.htm

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/make-most-your-metabolism?page=2

http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/502825

Your Body’s Sleep Plight: Avoid the Light!

Sleep plays an important role in health, it is the time when our bodies do a lot of restoring and repairing that we need to be fresh for the next day. The way we live has evolved and changed to involve a lot more use of technology, and our bodies have adapted to this new lifestyle in some ways. As it turns out though, our bodies haven’t quite adapted to all this technology when it comes to sleep, and the biggest reason for this is light!

ImageLight plays an integral role for our body when it comes to sleep as it guides the internal processes that our bodies use to rest and recover in those times. This can be seen through the effects of light on melatonin, which is a hormone that is produced in the body to help us sleep. Research shows that blue or white light, (which is what many products like TVs, LED lights, and computers produce) actually inhibits the production of melatonin.

Poor sleep quality is linked to several health outcomes like increased depression, breast cancer, heart disease and obesity, and can also impact the body’s immune system, hormone regulation and levels of energy.

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This is why it becomes essential to be mindful of how much light we expose ourselves to when we want to sleep.  In an increasingly technological world, many people are exposed to a lot more light late at night before sleeping, than what are bodies are accustomed to. However, there are a few things we can do to help ourselves out so that we are getting a more restful and improved quality of sleep.

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Tips:

  • Avoid falling asleep with the TV on: Falling asleep with the TV on can result in constant exposure to the kind of light that suppresses melatonin production and impairs sleep quality. It’s better for the environment and your electricity bills this way too so: win, win, win.
  • Avoid light right before sleep: If you wake up in the middle of the night and want to get back to sleep avoid checking your phone (I’ve often done this, but no more!) or using the tv or computer. They’ll make it take longer for you to get to sleep and reduce sleep quality.  
  • Using dim-red or orange night lights: Orange and red light does not suppress Imagemelatonin in the same way that blue and white light does, so if you need to get up in the middle of the night it will help your sleep if you turn on these kind of night lights instead of turning on the lights for a whole room. Place them in common spots that you would need them like the bathroom, your bedroom or the hallways. A flashlight can also be helpful to allow you see what you need to see without exposing your eyes to a lot of unnecessary light.
  • Waking up with sunlight: Just as a lack of light helps you sleep, exposing your eyes to light also helps wake you up! When it’s time to get up, use light to your advantage.
  • Try downloading ‘Flux’: a great app for computers that will automatically adjust the lighting of your computer screen based on the time of day. Your eyes might thank you! Here is a link: http://stereopsis.com/flux/

What about shift workers?

In an ideal world when it comes to sleep we would all be able to sleep when it’s dark and be up when it’s light, but life doesn’t always work that way, especially for shift workers! Working the night shift and having to sleep during the day can make light control very difficult and throw off the body’s circadian rhythm.Image

Here are some strategies to help shift workers working the night shift deal with light control:

  • Create a brightly lit environment in the early hours of the morning to help keep you awake through your nightshift
  • Wear sunglasses on the way home to help your body get ready for sleep.
  • Create a dark environment to sleep in when sleeping during the day. If the curtains let in too much light, a sleeping mask for your eyes might be a worthwhile investment. There are a surprisingly large number of styles!

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    **Curly mustache not included**

 

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