Midlife, midriffs, muscle tone and menopause: Is sleep your missing trick?
We all know how important sleep is, as we know how horrible we feel when we get too little!
It is the most effective tool that’s free and at our disposal; and that we can implement to reset our brain and body health each day.
Yet do we really make sleep a priority, or does it all too often get moved to the back burner?
In stark terms the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life span!
If you’re in your midlife years then the common myth is that as an older adult you need less sleep. Actually, it’s believed you still need just as much sleep but the caveat is that you may struggle to generate that sleep or have poor sleep efficiency.
As women age into their late 40s to early 50s, up to 40% of them experience sleep complaints. Sleep issues become more common and worsen during perimenopause to postmenopause.
‘Once entering the fourth decade of life, there is a palpable reduction in the electrical quantity and quality of that deep NREM sleep’.
However, it’s our awareness of how our sleep becomes more fragmented with incessant trips to the loo, overheating due to hot flushes and anxiety about not getting back to sleep that reduce our overall sleep efficiency. We may be in bed for 7-8hrs but only managing just4-6hrs! Trying to sleep in at the weekend, hoping to recoup some of that lost sleep just won’t cut it!
A 2018 study by Wang et al. investigated sleep catch-up during a weight loss diet and found quite startling results on loss of lean tissue mass.
A group of participants were divided into two sleep groups and put on calorie-equated weight loss diets
Group 1 were allowed unlimited sleep
Group 2 had 1 hour less for 5 days, 1 hour more for 2 days
At the end of 8-weeks, participants lost a similar amount of weight (this is to be expected since calories were equated).
However, the sleep-restricted group lost over 80% of weight as lean mass.
The unlimited sleep group only lost 17% of weight as lean mass.
What happens when our sleep is restricted.
It can increase cortisol and myostatin, which can accelerate the rate of protein degradation.
‘Additionally, it can decrease testosterone and IGF-1, which is anti-anabolic and can interfere with satellite cell proliferation which will likely explain why sleep restriction leads to poor outcomes with regards to lean tissue retention’
‘Muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30 and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60’.
So, it’s a no-brainer that if resistance/strength training is included in your workout routine. You will not only help preserve or even build some muscle (based on the volume and intensity of training) helping with your weight loss goals. As the more muscle mass your body has, the more calories it will burn while exercising and at rest.
Furthermore, resistance training can help with your mood, anxiety and depression resulting in an improvement of your sleep quality.
It is suggested that we should aim to achieve more than seven hours of sleep each night to maintain cognitive performance. Trying to sleep in at the weekend won’t restore performance back to normal levels after a week of short sleeping.
It’s worth noting that the human mind cannot accurately sense how sleep-deprived it is when sleep-deprived.
6 Tips to help improve your sleep
Get enough morning sunlight: Exposure to morning sunlight helps to calibrate our internal, 24-hour circadian clock and prepare the body for rest at night by supporting the secretion of melatonin, our sleep hormone.
Stick to morning coffee. As caffeine has a half-life of six hours meaning that if you have a coffee between 3-5pm, the caffeine will still be in your system around bedtime.
Establish a healthy bedtime routine: Stick to these relaxing rituals every night starting 30-90 minutes before bed. This helps educate your body and mind to wind down for rest. Try having a hot Epsom's salts bath, getting some aromatherapy candles lit, focus on your breathing (there are many techniques such as box breathing).
Read a few pages of a book or write your thoughts down in a journal to get them off your mind
Try mediation, there are many guided apps such as Headspace and Calm that you can try.
Switch up your exercise routine and include at least 2 weight bearing workouts each week
𝘞𝘢𝘯𝘨, 𝘟., 𝘚𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘬𝘴, 𝘑., 𝘉𝘰𝘸𝘺𝘦𝘳, 𝘒., & 𝘠𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘨𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘥𝘵, 𝘚. (𝟸𝟶𝟷𝟾). 𝘐𝘯𝘧𝘭𝘶𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘯 𝘸𝘦𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘴 𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘤 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯
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