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How Sleep Affects Your
Weight-Loss Efforts

Sleep is a precious thing. But when you lay your head down on the pillow, do you get a fitful, peaceful rest? Or do you toss and turn? Or wake up intermittently? Even worse, are you tormented with nightmares?

Of course, these problems assume you can fall asleep in the first place. How many sheep do you have to count before you doze off?

Sleep problems generally are the result of a calcium/magnesium and/or a zinc/copper imbalance. These two ratios, of course, also determine your basal body metabolic rate (translate: how much fat you'll burn every day.) If you get these two ratios into a healthy balance, you'll have better ZZZZZs and lose Lbs. (as in pounds!)

Not Enough Magnesium

People with a magnesium deficiency suffer from "Type II insomnia." They fall asleep easily but only experience a relatively short period of deep, restful sleep, that delicious time when your body is able to rebuild muscles, skin and bones. Most of the night they are trapped in light, useless sleep. They toss and they turn. Then, they wake up exhausted.

Ironically, people with too little magnesium in relation to calcium develop this trouble because they don't have enough energy to sleep fitfully. Restful sleep requires a certain amount of energy to reach the stage of rejuvenating rest, which is characterized by rapid eye movement (REM). When you can't maintain REM sleep for a prolonged period, fatigue eventually becomes chronic during your waking hours. (Your energy is zapped because you have too much calcium in relation to magnesium.)

People under stress are prone to this kind of insomnia because stress sops up all the magnesium it can find, creating a shortage.

Not Enough Calcium

Insomnia (the Type I kind) has been associated with calcium for centuries. Did your Momma serve you a warm glass of milk and cookies before bedtime?

People who don't have enough calcium have two sleep-related problems. First, they have great difficulty falling asleep. In most cases this occurs because low tissue calcium produces irritability. They're just too upset to be able to fall asleep.

Second, people with low calcium levels are plagued with muscle cramps at night. These painful cramps occur even without any real exertion during the day. A calcium to magnesium imbalance causes these muscles to remain in a constant state of contraction. Ouch!

Warm milk (without the cookies, of course) before bedtime can help people lacking calcium fall asleep faster. But more dietary changes are needed to deal with the muscle cramps.

Too Much Calcium

Frequent urination at night is one symptom of too much calcium. When excess calcium settles in the muscles surrounding the bladder, it reduces the bladder's holding capacity. Frequency and urgency are increased. It's hard to have a good night's sleep when you constantly have to get up and go.

Too Much Copper

High copper levels affect the neurological system. They also stimulate the right side or creative hemisphere of the brain. (Artists typically have higher copper levels than electrical engineers.) Unfortunately, too much copper causes nightmares. Don't eat chocolate, peanut butter or grapes before bedtime if you want to have sweet dreams.

So what's weight loss have to do with this?

All four minerals are also crucial to the weight loss process. Calcium and copper can sedate or overstimulate the adrenal and thyroid glands, basically snuffing out your weight loss efforts with an ineffective metabolic rate. Fix the cal/mag and zinc/copper ratios and you can burn off those pounds, even while you sleep!

For the scientific, the proper calcium to magnesium ratio is 3 to 11 milligrams per 100 grams. The healthy zinc to copper ratio is 4 to 12 milligrams per 100 grams.


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