Confession: I don't always practice what I preach, including my sermon about the importance of sleep. This past week or so has been particularly egregious, and guess where the Badass gods are punishing me?
Right in my tummy!
Yep, as soon as I go a day or two without my usual sleep, I'm as hungry as a 13-year-old boy in the middle of a growth spurt. And while I'm perhaps the size of a 13-year-old boy, this is no spurt. It is, simply, an imbalance.
It is my body revolting against the fact that I'm not giving it enough rest. We are a nation, a society, of people short on sleep. We don't get enough, period. Celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels talks about the value of sleep in boosting metabolism in her awesome book, "Master Your Metabolism."
Hormonal imbalances affect our metabolism, in many cases slowing it down. And many studies have shown a link between sleep and the hormone leptin, which affects when and how long we feel full. Consider: The percentage of young adults snoozing for eight to nine hours a night is half what it was 50 years ago -- and during that time, the incidence of obesity has just about doubled.
Studies have found that after just two nights of sleep restriction, participants' leptin dropped -- and their ghrelin shot up. Guess what ghrelin is? The hunger hormone. And we don't just get hungrier, we get hungry for sweets and salty processed foods. (Confession Two: I really didn't need to dig into those organic-brand 'healthy' cheese puffs, OK? Because really, they're just cheese puffs and they don't do much for this Badass.)
It might not seem like much is happening to our Badasses when we sleep, but au contraire! During the so-called slow-wave sleep that comes about an hour after we fall asleep, the body releases growth hormones that burn stored fat. Don't sleep enough or deeply enough, and the fat-burning is disrupted. We want the opposite, right? We want our bodies burning that fat like a well-oiled machine.
But that won't happen if we're like zombies, half-awake on a mix of caffeine and processed sugar just to get from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. And try motivating yourself to the gym when you haven't had enough sleep. Kinda sucks, right? And odds are, you never get to the gym.
So as you convince yourselves that you really need to see this late-night marathon of "South Park" or "Law & Order," remember that most Badasses need about seven hours for optimum performance. And as tempting as it is to burn the stick at both ends all week and then try to make up for it on the weekends, the reality is you can never get that lost sleep back.
But you can set yourself on a new, better-rested path of sufficient shut-eye.
Enjoy your weekends, Badasses. Get out there and enjoy spring! MOVE those Badasses...otherwise, they'll start saggin'. Sad but true.
Coming next week: The Mexi-CAN Chop, Kettlebell fun, and the true story of a Badass and his P90X success!