Have you ever woken from a short nap and felt ravenous? Headed directly from couch to fridge in an effort to stop your apparent starvation?
Well the good news is it’s not just you, some people believe it’s related to low blood sugar levels (which is perhaps why you were tired and went to sleep in the first place) but recent research has identified a direct link between short sleep cycles and certain hormones that affect our appetites and behaviours.
Therefore people who regularly get insufficient sleep or are poor sleepers are more likely to have a higher BMI (body mass index) and experience difficulties in losing this extra weight.
Normal physiological functioning relies upon getting regular adequate sleep; therefore it is only logical that such a direct correlation exists between sleep and weight loss, or more specifically the inability to lose weight and the tendency to gain.
Inadequate sleep is described as less than 7 hours a night, unfortunately many of us only dream of getting such uninterrupted hours.
When we sleep many important metabolic functions occur, one such process is hormone production and regulation. Ghrelin and Leptin are two opposing hormones both produced while we sleep, Ghrelin makes us hungry and Leptin tells us that we’re full. When regular sleep cycles are continuously disrupted our levels of these two very important hormones become unbalanced and as a result our behaviours are affected. Too little sleep and Ghrelin levels remain high while Leptin levels are low. The result, our appetites are stimulated so we seek to eat more, yet eating does not bring the same level of satisfaction or hunger abatement as it would if our leptin levels were in normal range, it’s easy to see now why sleep and weight loss are so closely related.
Certain other behavioural side effects of this relationship exist too, not only may we make poor food decisions short term trying to fulfil our huger, but when we are tired we are naturally less inclined to exercise, or if we do so it is at a lower impact and duration.
When we feel hungry certain decisions are also affected, the adage ‘never go shopping hungry’ really is true, further compounding our tendency to choose unhealthy options.
It’s important to recognise this relationship between poor sleep and weight loss, long term a vicious cycle may emerge as people who are overweight can encounter more problems sleeping and people who sleep poorly have trouble managing their weight.
There are many reasons for getting inadequate sleep on a regular basis, some people may simply enjoy a busy social life or work, stress, children, or insomnia may all play a role, however it is important to proactively address these problems before they get out of hand.
Finding the time or ways to fit sleep into our busy lives is an important consideration. In the evenings try avoiding all forms of caffeine from 2pm, and this includes coke, coffee and energy drinks. Don’t eat heavy foods after 8pm and avoid exercise in the evening, late afternoon however is optimal for encouraging sleep.
Try and turn all electronic devices off at least 30 minutes before trying to get to sleep, this means no phones, laptops or iPads too!
Melatonin may be help as a natural way to assist in developing regular sleep cycles, see your doctor if you feel you have a persistent problem sleeping.
Getting the odd late night will not do any harm however be aware if this becomes a habit.
Do you get enough sleep? How many hours do you get a night? Please SHARE with us below.