Can Lack of Sleep Effect my Weight?
When you started your journey to better health and weight loss, what steps did you think you needed to take to get you to your goal?
Eating a healthy, low calorie diet? Exercising every day? Drinking lots of water?
True, those are absolutely things you need to do to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle. But there’s one other important ingredient to weight loss that’s often overlooked: Your sleep!
Hi there, my name is Julia from I Dream of Sleep, where I blog about all things sleep. Angela knows how important sleep is to good health, and she asked me to explain how sleep and weight loss are related.
When you’re sleep deprived, certain hormones get out of whack which causes food cravings, a raging appetite, and an accumulation of fat. That’s why getting regular, quality sleep is important for weight loss.
Here’s how poor sleep can sabotage your weight loss efforts, and how you can be sure you get more zzz’s. 🙂
How Does Poor Sleep Cause Weight Gain?
So you’re probably thinking, how the heck can sleep keep me from losing weight, and maybe even make me gain more weight?
Getting quality nightly zzz’s does more than just give your body time to restore and rejuvenate itself. Sleep regulates a series of hormones in our bodies, particularly ones that regulate hunger and whether or not your body stores fat or burns it.
If weight loss is your goal, it’s important to make sure you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep nightly. If not, your poor sleep will disrupt the hormones, gherlin, leptin, and cortisol and you’ll be left with bigger numbers on the scale.
Gherlin, Lord of Hunger and Craver of Carbs
So you’re at the store, standing there in the checkout line reading the tabloids when all of a sudden Hershey’s starts calling your name. You just ate like, an hour ago, but you can’t resist. That Hershey bar has got your name written all over it.
That craving, my dear friend, was brought to you by gherlin.
Gherlin is the hormone that regulates hunger. It tells your brain, “hey, we’re hungry down here, we need some food now!” Which totally isn’t a problem normally, otherwise we wouldn’t be eating and enjoying our food.
But when you have consistent poor sleep, your gherlin levels can rise by as much as 15%. This means you’ll be hungry constantly and never feel like you’re full. And if that wasn’t bad enough, elevated gherlin levels also cause uncontrollable cravings, especially for carbs and sweets.
There’s an old adage that says, if you’re hungry and you know you shouldn’t be, drink some water, you’re just thirsty. Well, I always add, if you’re hungry and you know you shouldn’t be, get more sleep!
Leptin, the Key to Good Metabolism
Have you ever felt so stuffed after eating a good meal that you felt like you just couldn’t handle another bite? That was leptin telling your brain, “no room! No room!”
Leptin is a hormone that’s produced by fat cells. It tells your brain you’re full, but it also tells your brain how to metabolize what you’ve eaten.
That means it determines whether your body stores what you eat as fat or burn it as energy. If you’re well rested and your hormones are balanced, you’re less likely to overeat and your body can be a fat burning machine!
But when you’re sleep deprived, leptin isn’t there to stop gherlin from going out of control. As a result, you eat more, especially foods you shouldn’t be eating, and your body stores what you’ve eaten as fat.
Not cool, leptin. Not cool.
Hi, I’m Cortisol. I Get a Bad Rap, But you Totally Need Me
You’ve seen those commercials on TV, right, where someone with a pot belly magically becomes slim? They say cortisol is what’s causing all that fat. Pop a pill and it will lower cortisol, the “belly fat hormone.”
Cortisol isn’t bad for you. In fact, your body actually needs cortisol.
Cortisol doesn’t directly affect your appetite and metabolism the way gherlin and leptin does. Cortisol is actually the “wake up” hormone that gets released in the morning to wake you up. It steadily builds until about 4pm, and then starts to decrease until melatonin takes over at night and makes you sleepy.
Cortisol doesn’t start causing “belly fat” problems until your levels stay high for a long period of time. And what causes elevated cortisol levels? Stress and, you guessed it, poor sleep!
Stress and poor sleep create a never ending cycle that have dramatic effects on your health, and your weight.
- High levels of cortisol makes your heart rate increase, your muscles tense, and store fat.
- This creates a never-ending cycle of sleeplessness, hunger, and slow metabolism.
- High levels of cortisol blocks the release of melatonin, which means you’ll have a hard time falling asleep.
- When you don’t sleep, gherlin levels rise and you get hungry.
- Leptin levels dip and tells your body to store what you eat as fat.
- Fat is stored because your cortisol levels are high.
You can see why sleep is important to weight loss and living healthy life!
How to Improve Sleep for Weight Loss
If you’re thinking, hey, I’ll just take something to help me sleep and I’ll get my 8 hours and I’ll be good…please. Just. No.
Sleeping pills have scary side effects, can become addictive, and wreak havoc on your body. Unless your physician is prescribing them, please don’t turn to pills to get better sleep.
The best way to improve sleep is to cut out bad habits that keep you up and use methods that promote sleep naturally. Here’s some easy things you can do to get a great nights’ sleep:
- Take measures to block blue light an hour before bed. (This means no phones, tablets or TV an hour before bed!)
- Develop a bedtime routine to give your body time to wind down and let your brain know it’s time to sleep.
- Write in a sleep journal or do a tapping session to help relax.
- Make sure your room is dark, cool, and quiet.
- Don’t drink caffeine eight hours before bed.
- Get regular exercise. (but not close to bedtime)
Here’s an interview with Julia to learn even more about why sleep is important for weight loss:
Your Weight Loss Journey Begins with Good Sleep
There’s well known keys to losing weight and keeping it off, like eating right, getting proper exercise and drinking plenty of water. But don’t forget the one thing that keeps you from getting hungry, stop cravings and store fat.
Too little sleep disrupts a delicate dance between your hormones and leaves you with uncontrollable hunger and cravings which means no piece of chocolate cake is safe around you.
So be sure to make getting quality sleep a priority to stay off the merry go round of hormonal driven hunger, slow metabolism and weight gain!
- 1 Can Lack of Sleep Effect my Weight?
- 1.1 How Does Poor Sleep Cause Weight Gain?
- 1.2 Leptin, the Key to Good Metabolism
- 1.3 Hi, I’m Cortisol. I Get a Bad Rap, But you Totally Need Me
- 1.4 How to Improve Sleep for Weight Loss
- 1.5 Your Weight Loss Journey Begins with Good Sleep