How Sleep Affects Your Weight

Health isn’t only about food and exercise…

Is your sleep affecting your weight?

In one answer: YES

Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health and yet so many of us don’t place enough importance on it. We often focus on other things at night and put off sleep until we are literally closing our eyes while sitting up.

What you may not realize is that sleep is just as important to your health and your weight as healthy eating habits and exercise!

In a study from the University of Chicago, researchers studied two groups of people that ate the same number of daily calories. The group that got 8.5 hours of sleep a night lost about twice as much fat as those who slept 5.5 hours per night!

Why?

The quantity and quality of your sleep has a major effect on your hormones…

LEPTIN

This is your “feel full” hormone.

When your leptin levels are good they signal your brain that you are full when eating. Not getting enough sleep decreases your levels of leptin possibly causing you to reach for a second helping when you really don’t want it!

GHRELIN

This is the hormone that increases appetite.

When you don’t get enough sleep, wake up frequently in the night or go to bed and wake up at different times each day, your body secretes excess ghrelin therefore increasing your appetite — likely causing you to snack more than you would with good sleep.

CORTISOL

The “stress hormone”.

Sleep problems can up your levels of cortisol leading to inflammation. Raised levels also make the body less sensitive to insulin which increases the risk for extra fat storage. You are also more likely to snack when your stress levels feel high — usually something sweet in an effort to make you feel better!

As you can see not getting enough sleep messes with your hormones which in turn can have a big effect on your eating habits and maintaining a healthy weight.

How can you get a better sleep?

AIM FOR 7 TO 9 HOURS OF SLEEP EACH NIGHT.

This range gives your body time to balance your hormones for optimal levels.

GO TO BED AND WAKE UP AT THE SAME TIME EVERY NIGHT.

A sleep schedule is very important for getting good quality sleep and helps you be in a good rhythm of easily falling asleep and waking up without feeling groggy.

TURN DOWN THE THERMOSTAT.

Sleeping in cooler rooms increases your quality of sleep.

CLOSE THE CURTAINS.

Dark rooms help with good quality sleep and less chance of waking up in the night. Can’t get your room dark enough? Invest in a good quality, comfortable sleep mask.

TURN OFF YOUR ELECTRONICS.

The blue light from your electronics such as your phone, computer or TV drains your body’s levels of melatonin, the chemical that helps you doze off. Try to turn off all electronics 30 minutes before falling asleep. If you like to read before bed try a Kindle — it does not omit the blue light like other electronics do.

EXERCISE.

Physical activity during the day helps your body to get a good sleep at night. If you find you are restless after a workout try to do it earlier in the day. A relaxing evening yoga class is a great way to get your blood flowing but also wind down before sleeping.

Do you have any great tips for getting a good sleep? Let me know in the comments below…