Sleep more in the winter to decrease cravings

I’ve covered sleep numerous times, but it’s been awhile so I thought that we’d review and look at sleep during the winter time. We should sleep more in the winter. With the development of a 24/7 sunbath (artificial light), we have thrown ourselves out of order. In paleo times there was summer, when we would load up on the available carbohydrates (fruits) and put on fat, to prepare for the coming winter and time of scarcity. There was also night and day (it’s all about symmetry and in retrospect night and day is like summer/winter on a smaller scale). The winter’s brought long cold nights, where our ancestors would spend long periods dozing off and on in caves for weeks at a time. Slowing down their metabolic functions to save energy in a time when food was scarce. Light (no matter the form) spark massive biochemical reactions globally in all life, except at night, when all things rest from light. With light, we have thus cancelled out night and winter. Nature is about duality (yin/yang); day needs night to exist. By setting up a perpetually summer lifestyle; we crave carbs year-round (even in winter, when carbs wouldn’t be available, but of course we can find in abundant supply in the land with processed overload). It’s not that steak that we grab in the middle of the night, but that piece of cake. All life forms must go dormant to survive the dark and cold or they lose the ability to plan and adapt (another downside of constant light is we’re losing our ability to survive and adapt).  The definition of life is the ability to learn and change in response to experience. Elements of our immune system (gut, skin, fat, lymph, brain, and glands) all recognize, communicate, memorize, react, and plan to survive earth changes that have been timed into our programming by millennia of experience. What is happening by not sleeping? Let’s start off by reviewing that as it’ gets darker, melatonin levels rise so that we sleep, and as the sun comes up serotonin levels increase. Melatonin lowers body temperature during non-rapid eye movement (NREM)  sleep in order to slow metabolic processes and stave off hunger (because we wouldn’t be able to find food in the dark, huh!). The light and dark cycles control insulin so you can store fat for hibernation, or dormancy. Short sleep cycles of long days translate hormonally into an increased need for carbohydrates to store fat and cascade other hormones to put you to sleep. Basically because we’re not sleeping more in the winter when it is darker longer (think about it, it gets dark at like 6 pm and doesn’t get light until after 7:30-that’s nearly 14 hours of darkness), our brains our interpreting it as summer, when we need carbs and sugar (which are readily available at the local grocery) to prepare for the scarcity brought on by winter. This has affected prolactin and leptin, which has worsened our cravings and the size of our waistlines. Less sleep has pushed prolactin into the daytime by short nights has suppressed leptin and left appetite for carbs turned on. This gives the extra 20 pounds to get the ball rolling. The leptin from the fat base takes over to create leptin resistance. Since the feedback loop is broken, leptin receptors are burned out and there is no longer a curb on appetite for sugar. In the winter the ‘melatonin clock’ keeps the prolactin timer’ going longer at night, which means no prolactin secretion during the daytime. What does this all lead to? Overweight and obese Americans. This means of course: fatigue, Type II diabetes, depression, heart disease, cancer, and infertility.  Let’s not forget the other half of melatonin- serotonin. No sleep means no control and serotonin build-up. When we don’t sleep and eat carbs all day, week, year, decade, we’re drowning in chronically high serotonin because it never gets turned into melatonin. That’s were we get depression and heart disease. By keeping lights on an creating an endless summer, and having access to endless carbs, all our hormones are in summer mode, too. Not only minds, but hearts live in constant ‘panic’. Because that means its mating season (competition for resources, high hormonal mood swings, and ultimately loss). We’re aging faster too! In nature insulin is high for maybe 4 months out o f the year, but these days we have high insulin 12 months of the year, therefore we age four times as fast! Our active lifestyles and thirst for more (chronic cardio):

  • Running, jumping, climbing=being chased
  • Being chased=stress response
  • Stress response=cortisol release
  • Cortisol release=blood sugar mobilization
  • Blood sugar mobilization= insulin increase
  • Increased insulin=insulin resistance
  • Insulin resistance=fat storage
  • Fat storage=hypertension

What should we do? Well for starters sleep more in the winter. Shut off the TV by 9 pm, turn off all the lights in your bedroom, and of course make your room dark and cold (like a cave!). Secondly, control insulin (which you should be doing anyway). We’ve eliminated night and winter. The famine period is a time to empty stored sugar in muscles and liver, and more importantly, from your accumulation of body fat. We need to observe the winter, like nature intended, and we can dig ourselves out of the hole we’ve dug. After all, life is only sleeping, eating, and sex (reproducing is the key to evolution and value); the amount of sleep affects appetite and fertility, which affect metabolism. Bottom line to life: get up with the sun, sleep with the moon, eat only your share, and be fruitful and multiply. Turn out the lights and get some sleep!

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One Response to Sleep more in the winter to decrease cravings

  1. Pingback: Sleep, Summer, Cravings, and Disease | Body Change Wellness – Indiana

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