Could lack of sleep be causing you to gain weight?

Good night sweet derams (8)

Is this you?

You’re sitting at your desk mid-afternoon and you start to feel drowsy. You reach for a cup of coffee and a biscuit for that quick shot of energy. After work, you collect takeaways on your way home and skip your walk, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” you tell yourself. Later, when it’s time for bed, you’re too wound up to sleep.

Arrrgh—it’s a vicious cycle.

More and more research is identifying how sleep deprivation can sabotage the fit of your jeans.

Not getting enough sleep is common—we wear it as a ‘badge of pride’ around the water cooler.

“We brag about pulling that all-nighter, but we do pay the price for staying up late and getting up early,” says Mark Mahowald, MD, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Hennepin County.

On average, we need about 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night, he says.

“If you are getting this already, another half hour will not help you lose weight, but if you are a five-hour sleeper and start to sleep for seven hours a night, you will start dropping weight.”

How does lack of sleep impact our weight?

Mainly, lack of sleep affects our ability to lose weight because of the two hormones: ghrelin and leptin.

Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat—your “hunger” hormone if you like—and when you are sleep-deprived, we have more ghrelin in our body. Leptin is the hormone that tells you when to stop eating—it’s the “I’m full now” signal—and when we’re sleep deprived, we have less leptin.

In a nutshell, this hormonal imbalance causes us to eat more, and typically we reach for the less nourishing food options.

So, more ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain.

Secondly, when we’re sleep deprived our metabolism slows down.

And thirdly, when we’re sleep deprived we take less exercise.

There are fourth-ly’s and fifth-ly’s, but these three are the main weight control issues!

So what can you do, tonight?

Sleep needs vary, but in general, most adults need seven to nine hours a night. Some people can do with less, and others require more. So start to experiment with yourself and find out what works for you.

For starters, avoid any caffeine after midday because it will keep you in the lighter stages of sleep during the night.

Moving your body helps improve sleep quality. Go for your daily walk.

Also, watch what you eat before bedtime. Eating a large meal close to bedtime is less than ideal. Heavy, rich meals before bed can increase the risk of heartburn, which will keep you tossing and turning all night.

Begin a night time routine—and stick to it. Switch off your smartphone, turn off the telly, and allow your body to start to relax at least 30 minutes before you actually want to drop off to sleep.

Sweet dreams!

Love etc, Avril

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