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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.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • Great article – I get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night, so am not doing too badly.

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  • Having a newborn and a toddler I am dreaming of the day I can have a full night of sleep.

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  • Fairly sure that lack of sleep contributes to my weight issues. I suffer from insomnia and also having to get up to the loo at least 3 times a night. That on its own is an absolute pain in the butt. Have been that way for as long as I can remember though :( Will definitely see about giving Melatonin a go.

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  • I wonder if lack of sleep could be why I struggle to lose weight? I eat fsirly healthily and exercise most says, but the excess just won’t budge

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  • Good to know! That is really interesting! Thanks for sharing this!

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  • No I don’t get enough sleep. Don’t know why. Doesn’t matter how busy I am during the day, what time I go to bed or what time I get up in the morning, I still struggle to sleep. And no way can I sleep a full night either. I wake up several times a night

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  • What are you supposed to do when your kids don’t sleep!! Maybe that’s why I’m always hungry!

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  • i have slept a minimum of maybe 5 hours all broken for the last two years, i have gained a digusting amount of weight and im not impressed one bit! i know i need to make healthier decisions and this last week have started walking the dog every other day along the beach for 5ks,starting to feel less down and tired thank god.

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  • I’m trying to make my bedtime earlier… It’s a hard balance between down time/getting things done after the bub is asleep and my own sleep.

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  • it s very hard to not think about food and sweets but we have to make sure we dont put weight on

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  • Usually have about 6 hours a night and sometimes a 20-30 minute nap during the day. Never enough but too much to do!

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  • I get broken sleep as my 17 month old has never done a full night. I sleep about 10.30 pm to 6 am but in that time I get up to feed twice and sometimes more. I believe i get about 3 hours uninterupted a night and about 3 hours completely broken. i recently brought a Garmin vivofit watch and there is never a constant low point on the chart when i actually sleep meaning i dont sleep very well or very much at all. also have gained 25kilo in the last years.

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  • Interesting article. I think it’s important we get a little down time during the day for ourselves.

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  • it is real nice

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  • A very informative article. Thankyou :)

    Reply

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