The Connection Between Sleep and Weight
By Karrie Billets, Functional Nutrition Health Coach
It might be more than the midnight munchies that are messing with your weight loss efforts…sleep deprivation could be a culprit. If you’re trying to eat well and exercise during the day, your problem might be occurring at night when your head hits the pillow. Sufficient, high-quality sleep is essential for achieving a healthy weight. With weight loss, as with so many things, the reason is highly individualized — there are a lot of factors tied to your unique physical, mental, and emotional status that could either stall or spur your progress, and quality snoozing is one of them. There is a direct correlation between sleep, our hormones, and metabolic processes in the body and without Zzzs we throw this lovely harmony out of balance. (1)
I like to say, “sleep debt” is similar to credit card debt, if you keep accumulating credit card debt, you’ll pay high interest rates or your account will be shut down until you pay it off. If you accumulate too much sleep debt, your body will crash. This crash tricks you into unhealthy food cravings increasing our blood sugar, raising our insulin levels, and eventually paving the path to diabetes.
Studies show that shut-eye deprived people tend to select sweet, starchy, fatty comfort foods. This quick-energy fare may compensate for the sluggishness and fatigue a poor night’s sleep produces, but it also increases daily caloric intake by as much as 20 percent. (2)
When you’re even slightly sleep-compromised, you tend to feel hungrier. This is partly because the hormones ghrelin, the “I’m hungry” hormone, increases when we’re tired, and leptin, the “I’m full” hormone tanks which increases appetite and decreases satiety…that’s a perfect storm of metabolic sabotage. (3)
Don’t forget we must look at how much you sleep vs. how well you sleep. Some people may only get to sleep for a four-hour stretch, (my friend with a new baby), and there are people who get 7.5 hours of poor quality sleep because of poor sleep habits, a rumenting mind, sleep apnea, along with numerous other reasons and this has the same effect as if they got less sleep.
Make sleep as high a priority as good nutrition and exercise. Our metabolic health and sleep plays an unintended powerful role together. If you need tips for adopting better sleep habits and techniques to help you uncover the obstacles of quality sleep, connect with one of our nutrition and lifestyle coach professionals at Turnpaugh Health.