Stress Challenge Week 2: HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO STRESS? WHAT DOES SLEEP HAVE TO DO WITH IT?

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It’s officially Week 2 of this stress management / mindfulness challenge!

How have you been mindful this past week?

What did you learn about how your body responds to stress last week? Did you learn anything new about your sources of stress? Definitely hold on to those discoveries and keep them in mind as we move forward!

Today we are building off of last week by looking at what you intentionally, or unintentionally, do to cope with your stress. For some that could be exercising, not exercising, eating, not eating, smoking, drinking, avoiding, yelling and the list goes on. We are also going to really dive into SLEEP this week. Yep, many of us don’t realize the important role that sleep plays in our stress levels, our ability to manage our stress and in the decisions we make when we’re stressed. I’ll mention again at the end, but this week the focus is:

  1. Determine the ways (positive & negative) that you cope with stress.

  2. Look at your sleep patterns. How many hours do you get, on average, a night? How do you feel when you get less than what you know you need?

  3. Are there any ways you can adjust your schedule to allow for more and / or better sleep?


Ok, diving in!

WHY IS SLEEP SUCH A BIG DEAL?

  • Gives our bodies the time it needs to recharge

  • Allows for optimal memory, alertness, decision making and reaction time. (Important for everyone, especially when driving a car, and the young athletes who are practicing or playing their sports for hours each day AND taking tests and quizzes in school. And, absolutely those recovering from injuries!)

  • Allows our bodies to repair and build muscle (particularly important for my exercisers out there and the young athletes I see)

WHAT IS HAPPENING WHEN WE SLEEP?

  • Initially, there is a rise in growth hormone which increases glucose in the blood and decreases insulin so that our blood sugars don’t drop while we are sleeping

  • In the morning, cortisol levels rise and our bodies begin to utilize the glucose

HOW DOES A LACK OF SLEEP AFFECT OUR STRESS?

  • How much sleep we get can affect how stressed we are and how stressed we are can affect how much sleep we get!

  • Studies have found greater levels of morning cortisol in those reporting job and life stress. Remember, that some rise in cortisol is natural. It’s when it becomes too much and for too long that we start seeing the negative results (refer to Week 1 post)

HOW DOES SLEEP AFFECT OUR HUNGER?

  • Our bodies make hunger hormones called LEPTIN & GHRELIN

  • Our sleep cycle helps regulate these hunger and satiety hormones

  • Leptin tells the brain that we are full and to stop eating

    • we have decreased levels of leptin during periods of sleep deprivation

  • Ghrelin is secreted from the GI tract and tells the brain we are hungry

    • we have increased levels of ghrelin during periods of sleep deprivation

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HOW DOES SLEEP AFFECT OUR FOOD CHOICES?

  • Studies have found that when we don’t get inadequate sleep, not only do we tend to eat more, but we also tend to choose carbohydrate foods higher in fat and added sugar. (so I don’t mean grabbing a slice of whole grain bread or pasta. This is not saying carbs are “bad”. This is saying we grab the pie, the cookies, the cake, the bigger portion of fettuccine alfredo. And in moderation, these are not “bad”, it’s when we eat them consistently to cope and in larger portions, not being mindful, that it becomes a concern)

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HOW DOES LACK OF SLEEP AFFECT OUR OVERALL HEALTH?

  • May lead to weight gain (increased appetite + increased craving for higher energy foods that we may not be burning off)

  • May lead to weight loss (a decreased appetite also occurs in some. But eating too little can alter your metabolism so is not healthy either).

  • Can affect whether you lose muscle or fat in your weight loss.

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THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE:

  1. Determine the ways (positive & negative) that you cope with stress.

  2. Look at your sleep patterns. How many hours do you get, on average a night? How do you feel when you get less than you know you need?

  3. Are there any ways you can adjust your schedule to allow for more and / or better sleep?



AND A FEW RESOURCES…

Also, a few resources that I thought provided some good information can be found here. Check it out and see what practices work for you!

An article by the National Sleep Foundation:

https://www.sleep.org/articles/how-losing-sleep-affects-your-body-mind/

An article by dietitian Amber Massey from Food & Nutrition Magazine:

https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/stone-soup/vicious-cycle-sleep-stress-diet/



As always, comment with questions or let me know if you want my sources (there is a very lengthy list) and I’ll send over.

Take Care!

Taylor