Sleep And Weight Loss Information
Sleep and weight are closely linked due to the activity and balance of two hormones – grehlin and leptin. When an imbalance occurs, we notice an increase in our appetite, usually resulting in us reaching for the quick hit of some sugar to keep us going! Grehlin is found in the lining of the stomach and is indestructible. Leptin, on the other hand, is a fleeting hormone in the blood stream which is easily disrupted with too much sugar and poor sleep patterns. Essentially grehlin tells us to eat (it’s our hunger hormone) and leptin tells us we are full (our fullness hormone) and could possibly benefit from some exercise. When leptin levels are damaged, we find it extremely hard to eat nutritious foods as our brains are fatigued and demand more glucose (that’s a pretty easy fix in our world today as availability of quick and easy snacks is higher than ever). It’s challenging to eat mindfully and with a modicum of self-control when we are tired and zapped of mental energy – we have a very limited amount after all. This vicious cycle can be disrupted when we focus on ensuring we receive adequate sleep for our bodies to rest, recover and rejuvenate.
We have a much higher risk of being overweight if we sleep less than 7 hours each night (up to 73% greater chance when less than 5 hours). Arianna Huffington in The Sleep Revolution quotes a study performed by the Mayo clinic, where subjects who were sleep restricted gained more weight over a week than those who slept well (an average increase of 559 additional calories in the day! Considering there are 8800 calories in 1kg of fat it doesn’t take long to pile on some additional weight…). Unfortunately, our society is yet to understand that sleep is a life-sustaining physiological function that is a vital healthy behaviour to cultivate, not least because it helps us control our weight.
Golden Door tips for good, healthy sleep:
- Set up a standard routine of input and output. In other words, head to bed at the same time, but more importantly get up at the same time; eat meals at structured intervals, exercise at similar times where possible, even go to the bathroom at similar times.
- Leave your devices in the kitchen / lounge room / anywhere but the bedroom (you can buy alarm clocks – buy yourself one as checking social media at 2am because you checked the time when you got up to use the bathroom is not a great idea…)
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Eat a protein snack just before going to bed (the amino acid tryptophan is a precursor to melatonin, our sleepy hormone)
- Make sure your environment is darkened, peaceful and comfortable
- Manage stress levels by developing coping strategies (more on that in an article later in the year)
Your challenge for the month of March is to get an additional half an hour of sleep each night and set up a more structured routine. The best option would be to go to bed half an hour earlier rather than sleeping in half an hour, keep your rise time the same and tweak from the other end.