Poor sleep is linked to weight gain
Unfortunately, in the developed world there is a global trend towards weight gain and obesity as well as increased incidence of insomnia. The research is showing that these two conditions are linked.
Scientists from University of Chicago found people who slept well while dieting lost more fat while those that didn’t sleep well were more likely to lose muscle, overall the weight loss was similar but it is preferable to lose fat rather than muscle.
Another study found individuals who slept only five hours per night were 73% more likely to become obese than those who slept 9 hours!
Metabolic and hormonal changes occur in our bodies when we don’t get enough sleep. These changes can affect all aspects of our health and wellbeing. Poor sleep has been associated with premature ageing, poor cognitive function, cardiovascular disease including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, premature death, depression, cancer and reduced immune function. Thus one of best ways to help you age more gracefully with good health is to make sure you have good restorative sleep.
If our bodies do not get regular restorative full length sleep the hormonal changes that occur make it more likely for us to gain weight. The hormones affected include:
- Leptin – this hormone is linked to satiety, poor sleep leads reduced leptin production and consequently an increase in appetite
- Gherlin – this hormone is linked to hunger and poor sleep increases gherlin once again making us feel hungry
- Insulin – poor sleep is associated with insulin resistance where our bodies make enough insulin but unfortunately the cells don’t recognise it and blood sugar levels remain high this can lead to type 2 diabetes and weight gain
- Cortisol, a stress hormone – signals the body to replace the body’s energy stores it does this by increasing our craving for sweet and energy dense foods, as well slowing down our metabolism. Poor sleep can increase cortisol levels.
- Thyroid hormones – poor sleep has also been associated with changes to thyroid function, causing changes to our metabolism. If combined with high levels of stress reduced thyroid function can occur, slowing our metabolism causing weight gain.
Thus if you are struggling with your weight make good quality restorative sleep and reducing stress a priority in your life.
Tips for improving sleep and weight loss
- Go to bed at a regular time between 9.30 and 10
- Get lots of bright light during the day to stimulate your circadian rhythm
- Keep lights dim at night and stay away from electrical devices such as the TV, computer, phone or tablet
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day
- Avoid all caffeine containing products
- Avoid refined processed carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, cakes, muffins and sugar filled food
- Learn to meditate – meditation aids brain function, reduces stress and can help with weight loss
- Take a hot shower or bath an hour before bed the changes in body temperature can help you sleep
- Invest in a good quality mattress, linen and gorgeous pyjama’s to make your night as relaxing and restorative as possible
- Read uplifting positive books before bed
Make sleep and your health a priority.