We all know that sleep is good for us, but most of us don’t get the recommended 7 hour minimum. So, we’re tired and maybe a little irritable the next morning, but after our first cup of coffee, we’re fine.
First of all, sleep isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity. We might think that we’re “getting away” without enough sleep, but it’s a deficit that mounts up until it crashes and so do we. One of the most damaging results of too little sleep is that it makes us fat.
It has to do with cortisol, a hormone that encourages our bodies to store fat – especially in our bellies. While lack of sleep isn’t the only reason our bodies produce cortisol, it’s a major reason. The less sleep we get, the more cortisol we produce and the more belly fat we put on.
Empty calories and poor nutrition add to the cortisol deficit and we end up overweight, overstressed and overwhelmed. We’re so tired that we find ourselves living on stimulants like coffee, sugar and energy drinks. Well, all that energy has to come from somewhere.
Too often, instead of the natural energy we get from a healthy lifestyle of good food and enough rest, we get our energy from caffeine, nicotine or sugar, which stimulate our cortisol production, but don’t put any nutrients into our bodies to support our hormonal systems.
Instead of staying up and surfing until 1 in the morning, you might want to think about reading for a few minutes and turning the light out at 10. A short stroll after dinner and then a warm bath a half hour or so before bedtime will encourage sleep, also.
Along with a healthy weight loss plan, cutting down on cortisol production will help you shed pounds of belly fat. Start your cortisol-reducing plan by cutting out all stimulants, if you can, for at least a month.
If this is too difficult, slowly reduce the amount of stimulants until you’re down to almost none and then quit for a month. After that, slowly add one or two cups of coffee a day, a dessert once or twice a week or an energy drink only on Saturday morning.
You might find though, that you feel so good from the restful sleep and calm unstressed out feeling of living without cortisol boosters, that you don’t want to go back to them.