Want to Lose Weight? Try Deep Restorative Sleep
If you are someone who is interested in losing body fat, gaining muscle, slowing biological aging, maintaining the health of your brain and feeling fantastic, getting a good night’s sleep is no longer optional! If we could only conquer the mysteries of sleep, we potentially could unlock the secret to longevity itself (and lose a few extra pounds in the process).
Unfortunately, loss of deep-sleep is cumulative and is often referred to as our sleep-debt and as we know sleep-dept is not an easy debt to repay. Research presented in the prestigious journal The Lancet, shows that sleep-debt can exert a premature aging reaction on the body by increasing the severity of age-related chronic disorders. The study revealed that sleep-deprived people experience a negative effect on hormone function – especially where it concerns carbohydrate metabolism – and that sleep-debt effects are similar to those seen in advanced aging
The news gets worse. Researchers from Columbia University discovered that people who slept less than seven hours each night had a much greater propensity towards obesity. In the study – using subjects aged 32 to 59, it was found that, compared to those who get a good night’s sleep, those who sleep four hours or less each night have a 73 percent greater chance of being obese, those who sleep five hours have a 50 percent greater chance, and those who sleep six hours are 23 percent more likely to be obese.
Loss of sleep can also make us feel as if we’re losing our mind! According to a study appearing in the March 15, 2003 issue of the journal Sleep, accumulated sleep-dept does in fact tend to rob us of our mental capacity. Researchers discovered that habitually getting six hours of sleep or less per night causes a noticeable decrease in brain performance. The amazing thing was that the chronically sleep-deprived subjects in this study reported feeling “only slightly sleepy,” even when psychological testing showed that their performance was at its lowest level—yikes!
Tryptophan – the Missing Link to Deep Sleep
Could your sleep problems be linked to low levels of an amino acid? You bet they can! Tryptophan is an essential amino acid required for the production of one of our most important neurochemicals, serotonin (which promotes balanced moods, feelings of wellbeing and confidence, reduces stress and anxiety and aids in restorative sleep). Serotonin is also required for the manufacturing of our sleep regulating hormone melatonin. People who suffer from inadequate or unbalanced levels of serotonin (through a deficiency of tryptophan) can often experience a broad array of emotional and behavioral problems—referred to as Serotonin Deficiency Syndrome, including depression (most antidepressants work to elevate serotonin levels), excessive cravings (primarily in the evening), compulsive eating, poor stress adaptation, anxiety, PMS, alcoholism, violent outbursts, obesity and mild to chronic sleep problems.
- Tryptophan is hard to come by in the diet (it is the least common found amino-acid inmost protein-rich foods).
- Tryptophan is in constant competition with other amino acids for entry into the brain (where it converts into serotonin), and up to eighty percent of the time is bullied out of the way.
- Tryptophan is easily degraded in times of stress (even if the stress is all in your head).
- Tryptophan degrading enzymes increase with aging.
- Tryptophan is often used (at the cost of 60 mg tryptophan to make just 1 mg of vitamin B3) to manufacture vitamin B3 when levels of this important vitamin are low.
Due to these facts and more, it stands to reason that numerous people across North America may be suffering from serotonin deficiencies. This is one of the primary reasons we may have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep long enough to repair our metabolisms.
Natures Answer to Low Tryptophan Levels
Research presented in the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in May 2005 shows that by consuming an evening milkshake containing the exact alpha lactalbumin found in Ultimate High-Alpha Whey Protein, healthy, but mildly sleep-deprived, people could get a better night’s sleep and awaken feeling “alive,” refreshed and energetic the next morning.
The researchers gave 28 healthy young adults with mild sleep problems (hello, doesn’t everyone have MILD sleep problems?) the exact alpha lactalbumin found in Ultimate High-Alpha Whey Protein, which delivers unsurpassed levels of bioavailable tryptophan to the body and brain. In doing so, the researchers found that the protein caused a 130 percent increase in tryptophan levels before sleep, which seemed to be responsible for a deeper and more restorative sleep. The researchers were also amazed that the participants who had mild sleep problems showed a marked improvement in morning alertness and experienced significantly reduced sleepiness the following day.
Lost sleep – the stress connection
So which came first, you ask yourself as you lie there awake as the digital alarm clock calmly flickers at 3 a.m., my sleep problems or the stress? Am I not sleeping because I’m so stressed? Or am I stressed at the thought of not getting enough sleep.
There’s a sure-fire way to tell if your sleep problem stems ultimately from stress or if there is another physiological problem that is causing your state of sleep deprivation, according to Dr. Helene A. Emsellem, medical director of the Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, MD; if your sleeping problems are acute – last no more than several nights – then they are stress-related. If they are chronic – lasting more than a week – then there are other conditions at work. The good news is that if your lack of sleep is stress-related, you can easily support your deep sleep cycle by following these simple but highly effective strategies:
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed, as these can interrupt a healthy sleep cycle.
- Make sure your room is as dark as possible (darkness equates to more melatonin production) and your bed is as comfortable as possible.
- Keep your room cool, as a cool climate allows for deeper sleep.
- Aside from consuming the Ultimate High-Alpha Whey Protein <http://www.fatwars.com/products/protein.html> on a regular basis, natural ingredients like ashwagandha, rhodiola and valerian (all of which are found in Ultimate Anti Stress<http://www.fatwars.com/products/anti_stress.html>) will help you relax so you can fall asleep and wake up a healthier, younger, leaner You!
Brad J. King, M.S., MFS (fitness sciences) is a Nutritional Researcher, Performance Nutritionist, and 2003 Canadian Sports Nutrition Hall of Fame inductee. Brad is the author of the International best-selling book, Fat Wars: 45 Days to Transform Your Body, Fat Wars Action Planner, Fat Wars Un-Diet Plan and Bio-Age: 10 Steps to a Younger You.