Sleep and weight relationship
Sleep is basically the period when the body (and mind) heals itself. If you have spent the day eating and exercising properly, you will not see the full benefits of these activities unless you allow your body to fully recuperate overnight. Opinions vary but most people do need at least 8 hours sleep and there is a lot of evidence pointing to the fact that the hours you sleep BEFORE midnight are worth twice what the hours after midnight in terms of recuperative benefits.
Does sleeping help you lose weight?
Does lack of sleep cause weight gain?
Lack of sleep does lead to a variety of ailments which affect many areas of physical and mental health. One of the most significant biological mechanisms affected by poor sleep is that your body’s ability to respond to insulin signals is greatly diminished. When you’re not responsive to insulin, fat cells are far less able to release fatty acids and lipids to produce energy, blood glucose remains higher, and any extra fats and sugars circulating in your blood cause you to pump out even more insulin. Eventually, all this excess insulin causes you to begin storing fat in all the wrong places, including tissues like your liver, leading to problems such as fatty liver and diabetes.
But insulin isn’t the only hormone affected by lack of sleep. Hunger is controlled by two other hormones that respond to sleep cues: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone that is produced in your fat cells, and the less leptin you produce, the more your stomach feels empty and the less satiating a meal is. Ghrelin, on the other hand, stimulates hunger while also reducing metabolic rate and increasing fat storage. Research in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism has shown that sleeping fewer than six hours reduces leptin and stimulates ghrelin: causing you to feel more hungry and less satiated. So yes, lack of sleep can actually cause you to gain weight.
Sleep and weight loss tips
- Don’t eat just before going to bed. Eating produces a variety of hormonal responses, most of which do not promote good sleep.
- Increase your bright natural light exposure during daylight hours. Our circadian rhythms are very affected by light exposure and this alone is reason enough to get out into natural sunlight as often as you can.
- Don’t drink coffee less than six hours before going to bed. Caffeine is known to stimulate the nervous system which can affect sleep. Coffee in the morning, not in the evening!
- Reduce daytime naps. Daytime naps can be very pleasant but if you are a reasonably healthy adult, you should avoid daytime napping as it is known to impact negatively on proper sleeping patterns.
- Go to bed and wake up at consistent times. This is very important. The body responds to regularity in almost every area and sleep is no different.
- A good bed and pillow are one of the best investment’s you will ever make. We spend ONE-THIRD of our lives in bed/asleep. Make it count!