We know that sleep is important for recovery, but how does it tie into your metabolism? In today’s episode, we discuss how sleep plays an important role in regulating your metabolism (and how that affects your training).

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Mary:

Today, we have a fun topic all about hormones and sleep and metabolism, and what happens to your body when you don’t get adequate sleep. Which is, you know, not good. How about we summarize that? Quick seminar today: less sleep, not good. Moving on.

 

Kristin::

I know, I do feel like when I was preparing this, I was like, I think this could potentially be said in one sentence, but we’ll dive into the research a little bit. But what’s interesting is that research shows us that sleep duration results in metabolic changes. And I think that’s really interesting because sleep research used to all be focused on the cognitive consequences of sleep loss. So everyone knows that you get kind of foggy-headed, and you don’t perform skills and tasks very well when you’re sleep-deprived. 

 

But there are actually physiological processes that occur with a lack of sleep that can lead to the development of diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease, which is not good. We don’t want any of those things. I think as athletes, we’re all trying to avoid those things, right? Part of being an athlete is that we care about our bodies and try to be healthy. 

 

So, for those of you that are in the U.S., the National Sleep Foundation here found that adults sleep an average of six hours and 40 minutes on the weekdays and seven hours and seven minutes during the weekends. This was a huge change from the 1960s when the average sleep duration was eight and a half hours a night.

 

Mary::

I mean, in theory, you think two hours or an hour and a half, just depending on which day we’re talking about, doesn’t seem like that much, but it’s compounded over time. There was a quote I remember a long time ago, it’s silly cause it’s impossible. But it’s like “if you give 100.1% every day over time, that 0.1% will add to so many things, it’s going to exponentially grow. But if you do 99.9% of everything every day, that will also grow, just not at the same rate as that 0.1% more.” 

 

So we’ll get into this, but one night of bad sleep is not the worst thing. We’ll go into the changes that do occur but think of a lot of this stuff as what’s going to happen in the long-term if you continue to do these things over and over. 

 

Kristin:

You know what? I like to think about sleep like money. Let’s talk about compounding, like compound interest, right? When you’re in your twenties, saving for retirement sounds stupid. Why would I spend my money on saving for something that is going to happen so far down the road? Which is how I felt. I would way rather spend that on clothes or something fun. But then when you really think about how that adds up over time, like how sleep over time affects you, saving money over time will compound itself. And the same thing happens with sleep.

 

Mary:

And the effects of getting not good, but also good sleep.

 

Kristin::

Right. So, there are neuroendocrine changes associated with reduced sleep. By neuroendocrine, you can essentially think of that as hormones. That’s an easy way to think about it.

 

Mary:

Hormones are more than what we hear as like testosterone or estrogen or progesterone.

 

Kristin:

Those are the sex hormones. 

 

Mary: 

Right. Hormones are so many things. So just keep that in mind as we’re talking.

 

Kristin:

Right. So, one thing is that decreased sleep significantly alters your food intake on a hormonal level, on a level that all the willpower in the world will be difficult to change. It decreases the secretion of leptin and increases the secretion of ghrelin. 

 

You guys have heard us talk about these hormones before, basically that results in increased hunger and food intake. So, if you’ve ever gotten a poor night’s sleep and you feel hungry on that day, there’s a really good reason for it. It’s literally hormonal changes that are occurring in your body.

 

Mary:

It’s your body trying to get you to eat more, dangit, because it’s low on energy! How dare you!

 

Kristin:

Exactly. We don’t have enough energy is essentially how you can look at it. So, that’s your body’s inborn mechanism to get more energy into its system.

 

Mary:

Yeah. That’s your body just trying to balance that barbell.

 

Kristin:

Yes! That’s still my favorite analogy that I’ve ever come up with. I think I’ve had two smart things I’ve ever said in my life and that was one of them. 

 

So, increases in the sympathetic nervous system activity occur, too. So we know that sympathetic is basically your body’s fight or flight response. And being parasympathetic is rest and digest. So when we sleep, our parasympathetic activity is high and our sympathetic activity is low. We need a balance to be recovered, healthy, functioning people and athletes. We need a balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic. When you lack sleep, your sympathetic nervous system will be in overdrive and will take over that system. 

 

If you monitor your HRV in some sort of app that will tell you the relative balance between your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, you can start paying attention to this and see if you can correlate it with your sleep.

 

Another thing that happens is that a lack of sleep increases your evening cortisol levels and growth hormone levels. Usually those are highest in the morning and then taper off throughout the day. Your cortisol is your stress hormone. We don’t want stress hormone high in the evening. We’re supposed to be winding down and get going to sleep. And we’ll see this in people that have, for whatever reason, hormone impairments or imbalances. If you measure cortisol four times during the day, we’ll see a lot of times that when cortisol is supposed to be low in the evening, we’ll see it high, and then vice versa in the morning. It’s supposed to be high. It’s the cortisol awakening response. That’s what gets you up in the morning and wakes you up and we’ll see that reverse. So it will be low in the morning and difficult to wake up. We’ve all been there. It’s not necessarily cortisol that’s making it difficult for you to wake up, but chronically, it is absolutely something to look at. 

 

The other one that I think everyone can understand is that a lack of sleep reduces thyroid-stimulating hormone. I know a lot of times people say, “Is something wrong with their thyroid? I’m having a difficult time losing weight,” and you might have your thyroid tested and it might actually test okay. But look at your sleep. Because that could be a big answer as to what’s going on. 

 

And also, lack of sleep promotes an inflammatory response in the body. We create enough inflammation as athletes. We don’t need to be creating more by sleeping less.

 

So overall, you’re affecting your hormones in a way that is going to make you hungrier. They’re going to make you more tired. They’re going to make you feel more burnt out. And they’re going to alter your metabolism so that you may gain or lose weight and create inflammation. Not good!

 

Mary:

Yeah, because all your body wants to do is return to homeostasis. So, it’s trying to either get you to eat more so it can have more energy or get you to sleep at a normal time so it has more energy. All it’s trying to do is just protect you and protect its integrity. 

 

But it’s hard to do that when we’re our own thinkers. We don’t really listen to what our subconscious brain needs. We’re like, “it’s fine. I can live off of six hours of sleep five days a week. It’s okay. It’s totally fine.” Meanwhile, our body is full-on panicking because it’s just simply not getting enough energy from sleep to carry out everything that it needs to do. So it tries to shift things so that it can get the energy, but it also starts to change your type of cravings, right Kristin?

 

Kristin:

Yes, but I want to back up a minute, because what you said was really important. There’s these subtle changes and a lot of times people aren’t aware of the things that are going on. This is why Mary and I, as nutrition coaches, we track our sleep. We track our athletes’ sleep. We track all of this stuff. You might think that your lack of sleep isn’t affecting you, but we can see the data and see that your lack of sleep probably really is affecting you. And particularly for me, with people that are in caloric deficit, they’ll say, “it’s fine. I can go off of five or six hours of sleep a day. I actually feel fine.” And I’m like, yeah, but you’re clearly not fine because you’re not losing weight the way that we anticipate you to be losing weight. Or when we really start to look at their HRV data, their recovery data, they’re not recovering very well. So even though they feel okay, they’re really not okay. 

 

And sometimes it’s one of those things where you don’t know how good you can feel until you feel it. So try to get more sleep because I promise you, it will probably make a difference. And so if you try to sleep more and you struggle with it, we’re going to get into some tips for you on how to do that, because I know it’s frustrating for people to say, “sleep more!” and you’re trying, and it’s not working. That’s a really frustrating thing to hear. But yeah, there are these really subtle changes that you might not pick out, but a trained professional can see very clearly what’s happening.

 

Mary:

If the answer to, “it’s okay, I’m getting six to five to six hours of sleep and I feel fine” –  if that’s the bar, remember that is the lowest denomination of how you should be feeling is fine, right? Every day you should be feeling good to great. We all have those days where we wake up after what seems like a zombie sleep and we are just ready to go. We wake up before our alarm clock, we get things done. We’re so focused. We can do everything. And we think, “wow, this is crazy.” And then what we end up doing, or what I ended up doing, not every time, but sometimes, is I’ll take that positive flow and productivity and end up going to sleep way later than I should. So then the next day I feel like crap again.

 

We have to remember that. If you’re just feeling fine, that’s not the answer. You should be – remember we’ve said this so many times – you should be in training and nutrition, doing everything that you can to keep your body happy and healthy. “Fine” is not happy and healthy because if you want to get strong and recover, you need to be above and beyond that. Otherwise, you’re just simply perpetuating this under-recovery, which like Kristen said, we can see. 

 

If we’re looking at the data, we’re like “hello, you’re trending downwards. What can we do?” And you’re like, “no, no, I’m fine.” Like…no, take a step back. We need to reevaluate sleep. We need to really evaluate how much you’re eating. We need to reevaluate how much rest you’re taking, how much training you’re doing. The last thing you want to do is under-recover yourself into something we’ve talked about a long time ago, which was imbalances in your hormones. And that’s going to include some of these other steroid sex hormones.

 

Kristin:

That’s right. Absolutely. There’s a huge connection with all of this. I have a friend who monitors her HRV and her HRV is always in the twenties which is very low, very, very low. And she was like, “well, that must just be normal for me.” Now, everyone does have kind of a range where their HRV falls. And so like, my HRV just tends to be on the higher end of what’s considered normal and it’s, and then some people might be a little lower on the end and that’s okay. But you look, you want to look at trends, but if your HRV is in the twenties, you have some health issue going on that needs to be addressed. 

 

So even though you think something is normal for you, let’s evaluate what “normal” really is because Mary and I talk about all the time normal for you might be different than normal for someone else, but there’s also like absolutes. If your HRV is in the twenties all the time, that’s bad.

 

Mary:

Yeah. There’s normal just because you do it all the time. Like you might call that “normal,” but that’s not what normal is.

 

Kristin:

Right, exactly. Okay. So let’s talk about the changes in the types of foods people tend to eat after sleep restriction. So this is another place that research has looked at, and they found that sleep deprivation seems to increase not only appetite, but also preference for foods that contain more energy. So more calorically, dense foods. And so we have an appetite for energy-rich foods with high carbohydrate content including sweets, salty snacks, really starchy foods. And they found that people that were sleep-deprived increased their caloric consumption by 12% after sleep restriction and their cravings for foods increased by that same amount. 

 

Mary:

That’s huge. 12% is a big number. 

 

Kristin:

It is! So, in some of the studies, they did sleep restriction and had the participants sleep only four hours a night. I don’t think any of us are only getting four hours of sleep a night, unless you’re a new mom and then that’s totally possible. 

 

Mary:

I’m sorry.

 

Kristin:

Yeah. But, some of this stuff can happen with sleep durations under six hours. So, six hours is a place…I think a lot of people think six to seven hours of sleep is probably fine. Maybe – MAYBE –  for the average person, but you’re not average. You’re a strength athlete. You’re pushing your body to its extremes. That is not enough sleep for you.

 

Mary:

You do not want to be average sleeping.

 

Kristin:

Yeah. That’s the thing as strength athletes, as Mary was saying to build on that, is the bare minimum is not what we want to be aiming for. With strength athletes, everything is about, what’s the most amount of food I can get away with eating and still meet my goals? What’s the most amount of sleep I can get? What’s the most amount of weight I can lift? You know, all of these things are important and add up. And if we’re only doing the bare minimum, you’re probably not going to improve the way you want to improve. And your body’s not going to function the way you want it to function.

 

Mary:

I know the new year’s coming up and so regardless of if we know better or not, a lot of us are going to jump on the fad diet train. So, if that’s you, if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking about it, remember just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s right. Just because you feel like crap and everyone around you in a challenge or group also feels like crap. That doesn’t mean you’re doing it right. That just means you feel like crap. 

 

If you are a strength athlete, if you are working towards strength athlete goals, physique goals, whatever it is, you should feel good most of the time. Like nutrition and training don’t have to kill you to work. They just have to do what they need to do to get you where you need to go. And really that shouldn’t be like, scratch your eyes out difficult.

 

Kristin:

For sure. Unless, you know, you’re in a peaking block or something like that, then yeah. There’s going to be times where we’re not going to feel great. And it’s intended, it has an intended purpose. If it’s just all of the time, you don’t feel good all of the time, you don’t have the energy to do anything, that’s a problem. 

 

Mary:

That’s a problem. 

 

Kristin:

Yeah. and I used to live that way. 

 

Mary:

Me too!

 

Kristin: 

I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know. Oh, it didn’t have to be that way. I was like, “well, I’m an athlete. This is how it is.” Oh no, no, no, no. And that was when I made the switch from training five days a week to four days a week. And Mary and I were talking about this before we got on and started this seminar. We talked about how that was a huge change for me and almost like….I think that was the point in time when Mary was like, “Kristen, what are you doing?” Because I was PRing like crazy, building muscle like crazy, my body composition was changing. And really all that I changed was that I had more rest days. Oh, imagine that! Rest recovery enhances your performance? Who knew!!

 

Mary:

Crazy. Yeah. You know, I didn’t use to see myself as an athlete really cause I didn’t really have a great perception of what that was. But when I was really in the disordered eating the people that I followed, the culture that I was a part of – the diet culture – was, “You have to sacrifice everything, go all in. It’s super challenging, you know, push through the hard days,” whatever. So this really toxic mindset and every day was totally difficult. And I felt like crap every day, but I thought this is how I’m supposed to feel. But now that I feel good most days, I can push heavy weights. Most days, it’s not a big deal. I’m like, Oh my God! I want to just save everyone from that. You don’t have to live that way. You do not have to live that way.

 

Kristin:

Nope. Nope. 

 

Mary:

Okay. That was a good tangent. 

 

Kristin:

That’s our mission. Save all the women from feeling like crap, 

 

Mary:

Save all of them for feeling like crap. 

 

Kristin:

Okay. So, there’s one more effect of sleep restriction that is kind of a no-brainer, but I think it’s important to have spelled out because you probably have not thought about it. Individuals who get insufficient sleep are more likely to experience fatigue, excessive daytime sleepiness, which is likely to change the amount of activity that you get in a day and then engage in more sedentary behaviors. 

 

So, I think about this for my, for myself on days that I get a lot of sleep that I’m feeling really good. I get all my work done, my training done, a lot done around the house. On days that I’m tired, I get the bare minimum done. I get nothing done around the house and after dinner, I lay on the couch until I go to bed. Very sedentary. So that’s going to change your energy expenditure, which is another factor that goes into your metabolism and your calculated caloric intake, right? If you’re trying to be in an energy balance and you’re not getting enough sleep, suddenly now you’re expending less energy, and you really need to be eating less calories, but you have all these hormonal changes going on that are pushing you towards consuming more calories.

 

So Mary, you were talking about everything adding up to 100 earlier…

 

Mary:

Yeah. So I like to think of this as everything adding up to a hundred percent, right? Somehow to function a perfect ideal day, a hundred percent, we need to get a portion of that from sleep. We need to get our energy from sleep because during sleep or repairing tissue, we’re replenishing energy stores, all that good stuff. We have to get another portion of that hundred from nutrition. That’s also going to add directly into energy, replenishing glycogen stores, all that good stuff, hormonal balance, muscle protein synthesis. Boom, we’re good. All that has to add up to a hundred. 

 

Now, if you get less than what you normally would sleep-wise, you’re going to try to make that up. And we can see from these hormonal changes that Kristen just went through, we’re going to try to make that up through eating more. Your body’s going to be like, “Hey, you didn’t get enough sleep. We need some extra energy. Let’s go for some calorie-dense, energy-rich foods. Boom. You work up to a hundred. Great. 

 

Say on the opposite end, you eat less in a day. You might need to sleep a little bit more. So if you’re in a caloric deficit, the first thing you really need to be paying attention to, besides hitting your macros, is making sure that you have adequate sleep. Because what you don’t want to end up doing is you don’t want to end up having inadequate sleep and being in a caloric deficit because that’s going to get you something along the lines of, you know, 90-95%. Which might be fine, which might be exactly what you’re looking for in terms of weight loss. That might be the goal let’s say Kristin set for you. 

 

But what you don’t want to end up doing is having such a severe loss of sleep and a severe, or just a tiny caloric deficit, and only adding up to like 70% of your energy needs because between 70% and 95% of your energy needs is a huge, huge gap. Your body’s just going to be fighting you that whole way because it simply just doesn’t have the energy to do all the things you want it to do. So you could think that you could do it, but biologically your body’s like, “Hey, what the heck?!”

 

Kristin:

Yeah. Well, let’s talk about a caloric deficit. A caloric deficit is the term that we use when we’re talking about weight loss, right? You are taking in less calories than your body needs. But really it’s an energy deficit, and you can get that through several ways. One, through caloric deficit and two, through moving more, right? So you can eat last, move more basically. That’s how you create an energy deficit. 

 

If you are in an energy deficit, you’re already not at 100 on purpose. You can’t be at 100, otherwise you’re not going to lose weight. So you’re already at a disadvantage. You need to get all of these other things in line. And one of the most important factors is going to be sleep. You are going to need to sleep more when you’re in a caloric deficit, plain and simple.

 

Mary:

Your body is going to need that. 

 

Kristin: 

Right. And one thing that tends to happen during a caloric deficit is that we have hormonal changes that can impact our sleep and it can become more difficult to sleep in a caloric deficit. So this is the argument for not being in too steep of a caloric deficit so that change doesn’t happen so abruptly. And also it’s a really good reason to utilize diet breaks. You don’t have to diet continuously. Say, you want to cut one or two weight classes or your body fat percentage puts you in an obese category, which are not comfortable with in terms of health. So we want to reduce that to a range where your blood lipid levels in your blood sugar levels and everything are healthy. If that’s you, then as we decrease things, you’re just putting yourself at more of a disadvantage. If you go too fast it’s going to happen more quickly and more abruptly,

 

Mary:

Just like we talked about in forever seminars episodes ago was all about metabolism. These changes in your metabolism. You want it to happen a little slower so your body has time to adjust slowly rather than just sucker-punching it in the face and making it adjust rapidly, which as we talked about before, leads to a lot of these adverse effects of dieting because it’s done so abruptly.

 

Kristin:

Right, so you can say, “okay, I’m going to diet for a certain length of time, 12 to 16 weeks,” something like that. And then move into maintenance. If you take your time, your body…I know that’s not cool. That’s not sexy. Nobody wants to take their time losing weight. 

 

Mary:

It’s not what the internet says! It says I can have it in 10 days!

 

Kristin:

For sure, for sure. And we all want everything right now, right? You make up your mind that I want this thing, and then we expect it to happen overnight and it’s not going to happen overnight. And probably I think the biggest thing that we have to wrap our heads around is if we want these changes, we’re going to have to do them in a way that increases our longevity and our sport in increases our health, as opposed to decreasing our longevity in our sport and decreasing our health signals. So you can diet in several chunks in several segments, you can put yourself in a caloric deficit, then you can go into maintenance for three months, then go back into a caloric deficit, then go back into maintenance. And I know that that means that it’s going to take you longer than what you think, but I promise you 100%, regardless of how you lose weight, it is going to take you longer than you think it will because weight loss is not linear.

 

Mary:

And you can also play on diets around your life. So don’t plan to be in a caloric deficit. If you know, let’s say work’s going to be crazy for the next six weeks. Just maybe that’s a great time to be like, “Hey coach, can we take a break or maybe in six weeks, let’s evaluate, I’d love to hit these specific health goals that I have, but I know that work’s going to be crazy right now and I’m just not going to be able to do this, or I won’t have the energy” because if work’s going to be crazy and you’re training and you’re in a caloric deficit again, that’s taking that 100% or that 95%, if you’re in a caloric deficit and that;s shifting it down to, let’s say 90 or 85. That may be too much. That may be just simply too much and you just can’t do it. And you’re setting yourself up for failure. So keep that in mind.

 

Kristin: 

Sure. For sure. Stressful periods during work or life or whatever, stressful periods of life raise your cortisol levels. Other things happen, and make it more difficult to lose weight.

 

Mary:

Add sleep on that. Let’s say you’re not getting less sleep. Your cortisol levels are already whacked. Now they’re going to be even more whacked.

 

Kristin:

Yep. 100%. Yeah. So, when you know that you’re going to have stressful times or when something in life pops up that is stressful, maybe not the best time to be in a caloric deficit, you should probably be fueling your body so that it can sleep well and handle the stress better. 

 

So, what does all of this mean?

 

Mary:

It means that there are important modulatory effects of sleep on hormonal levels and glucose regulation that suggests that sleep loss may have adverse effects on endocrine function and metabolism. So if you get less sleep, as we said in the beginning, summing it all up, you get less sleep, it’s just bad. Okay? It’s just bad overall. It’s not ideal. Now, just like we’ve talked about so many times before, if it’s one night or two nights, shit happens. Okay. We have bad nights. We end up staying up late, watching a movie, and if you don’t allow yourself the adequate or you lay in bed and you watch TikToks for way too late into the night *not me* you don’t allow yourself to decompress and so it takes you longer to fall asleep. One or two nights is not gonna make or break you. It’s going to be this effect over a long period. 

 

Now, some of these effects can happen in the short term, but they don’t have long-term adverse effects. So if you can course correct pretty fast and be like, “Wow, I stayed up till 1:00 AM watching videos on the internet, maybe not do that again. Let’s set ourselves up tomorrow so that we are in bed at normal time and we get enough sleep so that way, the next day we get work done and then watch videos until like a normal time at night. You know, one or two nights, isn’t going to be a big deal. It’s these issues that occur over a long period of time, just like with so many other things.

 

Speaker 2 (30:13):

For sure, for sure. My nutrition coach, who works for my company Fiercely Fueled, she can always tell when I am, am reading a book that I really like, because my sleep goes from like eight to nine hours a night to like six to seven. She’s like, “You must be reading a book that you really like…” cause I’ll stay up till like midnight reading. And I’ll like, look at the clock and go, “Oh, whoops.” Like it was totally unintentional, but yeah.

 

Mary:

Or like what I do, which I’ll look at the clock at night, I think, “It’s only nine? I’ve got so much time before bed. I don’t need to start getting ready.” Then I look at the clock again until 11:30 and you’re like, what!? And I still haven’t done anything to get ready for bed. So I’m scurrying and your heart rate is up and everything’s elevated so then you’re going to bed a little bit stressed cause you just stress got ready.

 

Kristin:

Right? Yeah. So let’s talk about how we can make sleep more of a priority.

 

Mary:

Sleep hygiene. 

 

Kristin:

Yeah. Sleep hygiene. The National Sleep Foundation in America has come up with a list of things that we can do to help ourselves have better sleep hygiene. And one of them is sticking to a sleep schedule and have the same bedtime and wake up time even on the weekends, which I know sounds like a really big bummer when you think about it. However, if you’re sleeping enough….

 

Mary:

Shouldn’t be a big deal.

 

Kristin:

It shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s the same thing like we talked about in the cravings episode, when we talked about food intake and if you are eating at maintenance and allowing yourself to have some snacks that you enjoy and treats that you enjoy, you don’t really crave them that much. So, if you’re already getting enough sleep regularly, do you really need a lot of extra sleep on the weekends? I mean, maybe you do, but probably don’t.

 

Mary:

Yeah, probably, probably not. 

 

Kristin:

I’m not saying that if you wake up at four o’clock in the morning for work, like maybe, you know, you don’t want to wake up at four o’clock on the weekends, but aim for a somewhat regular sleep schedule during the week. And on the weekends.

 

Mary, I saw your Instagram story recently that said that you’ve now reached the age where you wake up at the same time every morning, regardless of when you go to bed. I laughed so hard because I remember when that happened to me and I was like, well, okay, I guess we’re here now. It doesn’t matter if I go to bed at 9:00 PM or 3:00 AM. I’m up at seven.

 

Mary:

Let’s talk about that for a minute because I don’t know if any of you have experienced this. You probably have. I now do the fun thing of every single morning – I could show you my Sleep Cycle app – Every single morning, I wake up at four to pee and then it’s like, I’ve solved world hunger at 4:00 AM. And I just lay there awake for like another 45 minutes before I fall back to sleep to just wake up at seven. It’s wonderful. It’s beautiful. And just like Kristin said, it doesn’t matter that I went to bed at 11:45 the night before and really I should have been in bed at 10. Doesn’t matter. I’m going to wake up at seven. But also keep in mind, you cannot make up for sleep. 

 

You can’t. Just like with just like cravings, like Kristen said, the bingeing and then restricting – you can’t make up for calories really that you restricted or that you overate cause it just perpetuates the cycle of oversleeping, under-sleeping, overeating, under-eating. The way that you solve these cycles is you just do it consistently. You do the right thing. The good thing, the healthy thing consistently. So if I consistently go to bed at 10, I’m not feeling like on the weekends when I’m not working that I need to sleep until nine because I’m just getting adequate sleep overall. It’s so boring. Being a healthy person is so boring.

 

Kristin:

It’s definitely boring.

 

Mary: 

It’s boring, but we have to do it to set ourselves up. Otherwise, the next day we’re crabby, we’re foggy, training probably doesn’t happen because we don’t feel great or it doesn’t happen to the same standard that it normally does.

 

This is for all you younger listeners, or maybe older listeners can relate to this. I kept waiting, and I still keep kind of waiting sometimes for things to just feel like “normal.” To not feel like I’m missing out on something if I’m having a normal schedule cause you know, this may not make a lot of sense. I may have to take this out, but when I was younger, I always thought that you needed to stay up late and live for these moments and do these crazy things. But as I’m getting older, I’m finding that like, you’re not missing out on anything if you just have a normal schedule. You’re just setting yourself up to have another good day. The next day. There’s nothing sexy about being sleep deprived. 

 

Kristin:

I mean, I think that’s just growing up.

 

Mary:

I hate it! Take me back!

 

Kristin: 

I mean, the older we get, the more responsibilities we have and the more we realize like, “Hey, I’m in control of how I feel and how much I get done and how productive I am” and all of that. And so, I mean, I do know people that can go about their lives just being sleep deprived because they were up having fun and it doesn’t really, they don’t really care if they do a bad job at work and whatever. I can’t live that way. I love my job so much. I love what I do so much. It is completely ruined if I am dragging and am just trying to get through the day. Like I have so many people that rely on me every day to help that get them out of pain or to fix whatever they have going on nutritionally. I can’t afford to have a bad day because I’m not going to do a very good job with those people. And that I take that very seriously and feel very responsible for my work and I don’t those days when you’re just like, “oh, I just gotta make it through the day.” I can’t just make it through the day because the work that I do has a really big impact on people’s lives. You don’t want a chiropractor who only like, sort of fixes your back pain – you want to be out of pain. So that was the big shift for me was what it was in my career, realizing the impact that my personal lifestyle choices had on people that I serve. Yup. I think that’s just growing up. 

 

So let’s talk more about ways you can make sleep a priority.

 

One thing you can do is adopt a relaxing pre-sleep ritual. So have a routine that you do every night that when you start doing it, your body, your brain starts to go, “Oh, sleep’s coming!” It’s kind of like conditioning a dog. Right? It’s the same kind of thing. I don’t know. But at any rate…so you have these things that you’re doing that signal, “Oh, it’s about time for me to go to bed.” So my pre-sleep ritual is washing my face, brushing my teeth, getting the coffee maker set up, and then getting in bed and reading for about 30 minutes. Unless it’s a really, really good book, I can’t read. I have to do something else because I stay up too late.

 

Mary:

Yeah. They say that you need about like an hour to even an hour and a half for your brain to wind down and process everything that has happened in the day for you to go asleep. Go asleep? For you to go asleep, go to sleep!

 

So try to give yourself time to do that. And that means putting screens away and not watching TV necessarily right up until you fall asleep, giving your brain that time to just take away from the day process, everything that happened in the day without the distraction of screens. What I used to like to do is I would watch TV for hours, feel really tired and then think, “Okay, well now I’m going to go change all the litter boxes and give everyone their meds for the night and then go to bed.” So I went from like a state of going into sleep to activity, and then it took me forever to get back down. So try to find something, some ritual, just like what Kristin’s describing, that takes you down rather than build you back up.

 

Kristin:

For sure. For sure. Another thing that you can do is if you find that you can’t sleep very well at night, but you’re napping during the day, stop napping. I know we say naps are really good. Sleep is good. And if you, if you do have to sleep less, trying to get in a nap during the day would be a good idea, but not if it’s perpetuating this issue of you not being able to sleep at night. So, your schedule means that you can’t get eight hours of sleep a night because of work schedules or commitments or whatever, then you probably should try to nap during the day. But if you’re just not able to sleep eight hours and you’re napping during the day, get rid of those naps.

 

Mary:

I used to, when I was, when I actually had to leave the house for a job, I used to have to take a pre-training nap because I just, I couldn’t…my schedule was just not set up in a way that I could get more sleep. Like really, truly, even if I went to bed earlier, I couldn’t. I just could not get the amount of sleep I needed. So, I just took a pre-training nap. It was like a 20-minute power nap. I’d fall asleep, wake up, good to go, ready to go. And it may have affected my sleep the night before now that I’m thinking about it, but I know that I likely couldn’t have trained without it. So I dunno, it’s a gray area.

 

Kristin:

I am impressed by people that can sleep and then go train. Because if I….I would sleep and then do nothing. There would be no training, that would not happen.  Sleeping after training, possibly I could do that.

 

Mary:

Yeah. But at that point it would have been like 6:00 PM and I would have just…

 

Kristin: 

Might was well just go to sleep for the night. 

 

Mary:

Right. 

 

Kristin:

I definitely find myself with it getting dark so early now, I’m like looking outside. I’m like, “Can I go to bed yet?” And it’s like 7:00 PM. 

 

Another thing that can be helpful in checking the temperature of your bedroom. The National Sleep Foundation found that our bedrooms should be between 60 and 67 degrees for proper sleep. I definitely know I sleep better in the winter when my house is cold at night, as opposed to in the summer when it’s still like 90 degrees outside overnight. 

 

Mary:

And you’re sweating and your sheets it’s gross. 

 

Kristin:

Right. And then keep your room dark and free from noise. So if you sleep with someone who snores…wait, you’re the snorer right?

 

Mary:

I’m the snorer. I’m the problem, I’m aware.

 

Kristin:

So, you can use a white noise machine, something like that. I laughed. Everyone’s Spotify things are coming out as to like what they listen to the most and mine is white noise. And I’m like, like, “This is so stupid! Like I only listen to that at night. 

 

Mary:

Like you should be able to, put a caveat in Spotify. Like Spotify, come on. You know I don’t listen to that for fun.

 

Kristin:

Yeah. So listen to some white noise. Or move out of the bedroom, get your own bedroom, move into the guestroom. It’s called a sleep divorce. Look it up. It’s very common.

 

Mary:

It’s fine. It’s normal.

 

Kristin:

And then the other thing is just watching your caffeine consumption and aim to not have any caffeine after 2:00 PM. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, you might need to move that back. All of the literature says usually like 2:00 PM, stop drinking coffee. If you’re going to be going to bed at like 10. I can’t have any caffeine after noon or it will impact my sleep.

 

Mary:

I can’t understand people who have Bang Energies at like 6:00 PM.

 

Kristin:

I thought you drank Monsters at night.

 

Mary:

No, I did like twice. No I can’t. I had half a monster yesterday cause I was running errands and I just felt exhausted. And I think that’s what screwed up my sleep last night. I don’t, I cannot, I can’t fathom that. How can you, how do you sleep?

 

Kristin:

Some poeple don’t have this gene where they don’t respond to caffeine the way that other people do and so that means also then that caffeine is not going to have as much of a performance-enhancing effect on someone like Stephanie. But it has a tremendous performance-enhancing effect on me. Also turns me into a motor mouth.

 

Mary:

Yeah. Yeah. So you guys are just the perfect balance.

 

Kristin:

He drinks half of a quarter of a Bang, and he’s wired for days. Yup. For sure. I get that.

 

Mary:

The final thought is as athletes, we are training hard, and we may need as much as not eight to 10 hours of sleep. Honestly, the closer you can get to nine to 10, the better. All the literature points that that’s what you need. Kristin has a really good approach to this. She says you might not be able to actually sleep that long, but give your body the opportunity to try.

 

Kristin:

I work with a lot of perimenopausal and menopausal women and sleep is an issue in menopause or nearing menopause. It really is. It’s frustrating. I have athletes that are like, “stop yelling at me about my sleep. I’m trying!!!” And I’m like, okay, fair point. Give  your body the opportunity to sleep that much. And if you can’t, it’s okay. But do all these other things that we were talking about as well because they may make a difference. And so it can be easy to say like, “Oh, well, you know, I have this and this going on and I’m just not going to sleep well.” Maybe, but let’s try, let’s try these other things and see how they impact you.

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