Some say that getting enough sleep is right up there with a clean diet and daily exercise, when it comes to weight loss. Think about it. When we get a poor night’s sleep, what do we do? We hit up the local coffee shop the next day, most likely choosing something high in calories and sugar (you know, to help us stay awake!). We skip the workout because we are too tired. We go out to eat or get take out because again, we are too tired to cook. If a poor night’s sleep, leading to this domino effect of unhealthy choices, happens a handful of times a year, no biggie! But if this is a regular occurance, it could really take its toll on your health and fitness.
A SLEEPY BRAIN
Being sleepy affects the frontal lobe, which is responsible for your decision making skills and impulse control. So while you might be able to turn down the cookies on a day when you are well rested, your sleepy brain is beggin for comfort foods, something that FEELS good. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that sleep deprived folks tend to late night snack and foods higher in carbs. A second study notes that a lack of sleep can even cause people to eat larger portions and meals. A sleepy brain craves high-calorie comfort foods and A LOT of them!
Getting a poor night’s sleep impacts two hormones: ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin tells your brain when it’s time to eat while leptin tells you when you’re full. When you’re sleep deprived your body makes MORE ghrelin while leptin levels PLUMMET causing a recipe for overeating! There is also a spike in cortisol, which you might know as the “stress hormone.” Your brain is telling your body to conserve energy because it’s going through a crisis (lack of sleep) and hang onto calories to use as energy throughout the day. Whereas a well rested person is using fat stores for energy, a tired person’s body is hanging on to fat.
IMPACT ON INSULIN
Insulin is responsible for converting sugars, starches and other foods into energy. Your body’s ability to process insulin is inhibited by a lack of sleep. When your body doesn’t respond to insulin, the fats within your bloodstream are stored rather than used for fuel and energy.
So if I sleep more I’ll lose more weight? Not so fast, it doesn’t work that way! In summary, a LACK of sleep causes changes to your metabolism and affects your decision-making skills, causing weight-gain.
TIPS FOR GETTING A MORE RESTFUL NIGHT’S SLEEP
- No cellphone, tablet, TV’s or computers at least one hour before you hit the hay.
- Keep the TV out of the bedroom! Reserve that room for sleep and sex!
- Create a routine. Take a warm bath, read a book, listen to relaxing music, etc.
- Download a bedtime meditation or sleep app (Best Sleep Apps 2018). I LOVE to write in this mindfulness journal each night before bed!
- Before bed, write down all the things on your mind, your to-do list, etc. Getting it off your chest will help get it off your mind while you try to fall asleep.
- Go to bed and wake up at relatively the same time.
- Avoid heavy meals, alcohol, soda, caffeine, and chocolate (has caffeine!) after 2pm to ensure it’s out of your system before bedtime.
- Create a dark sleep space. Darkness causes the release of melatonin (sleep hormone) while light suppresses it.
- Spray your room or pillow with lavender essential oils spray or diffuse it in your bedroom with a diffuser.
- Track your sleep patterns using a Fitbit Blaze, Apple Watch, Garmin Heart Rate Monitor, etc. to find out how many hours of sleep you are actually getting each night.