Why do you need to sleep more to lose weight?

If you thought under-eye circles were the worst consequence of skimping on sleep, you’re in for a shock.

Yes, it’s true – Being sleep deprived can really cause havoc with your weight. While you weren’t catching up on sleep, your body cooked up a perfect recipe for weight gain.

So, I am sure that you have all noticed that after a late night it’s easy to lean on a large latte, or 2- 3 espressos with loads of sugar and sugary treat to get moving. You might be tempted to skip exercise – I know I have done it in the past – felt too tired and just didn’t have the energy to go for that run, get takeout for dinner as you are too tired to bother shopping and cooking, and then turn in late again because you’re uncomfortably full.

If this cascade of events happens a few times each year, no problem. I mean we have all had that late night – partying till 4 am or a great date that ran into the early hours of the morning. Trouble is, more than a third of the population aren’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Young parents; regular party goers, working late and getting up early every single day. Yet experts agree that getting enough shut-eye is as important to health, well-being, and your weight as are diet and exercise.

If you are tired you are also more likely to make bad decisions. Being over tired dulls activity in the frontal part of your brain, where our impulse control center is located (this is a simplified explanation of the brain anatomy of course)

So, it’s a little like being drunk. You don’t have the mental clarity to make good decisions.

When you’re exhausted, your brain’s reward centers start working overtime, looking for something that feels good. So while you might be able to squash comfort food cravings when you’re well-rested, your sleep-deprived brain may have trouble saying no to a second slice of cake or the pizza from the shop round the corner.

You all know me well enough by now I always verify what I am saying with studies. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people were starved of sleep, late-night snacking increased, and they were more likely to choose high-carb snacks. In another study done at the University of Chicago, sleep-deprived participants chose snacks with twice as much fat as those who slept at least 8 hours.

Several other studies have also shown that sleeping too little prompts people to eat bigger portions of all foods, increasing weight gain. Lack of sleep led to much more cravings for energy-dense, high-carbohydrate foods. (If you want to read the studies PM me I’ll be glad to send the articles over)

Have you heard about cortisol?

Think of cortisol as nature’s built-in alarm system. It’s your body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear.

The more sleep-deprived you are, the higher your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite. And it’s not like you’re going to be suddenly ravenous for kale salads, either. For me, it takes a bit of willpower to choose the salad over the burger. When I’m tired, I go for whatever’s going to be easy and make me feel better in the moment. And let’s face it a healthy lunch takes much more time to prepare than a quick pastizz you buy from the pastizzi shop around the corner.

Furthermore, cortisol signals your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours.

Translation: You’re more apt to hang on to fat.

Apart from that within just 4 days of insufficient ZZZs, your body’s ability to process insulin — a hormone needed to change sugar, starches, and other food into energy — goes awry

Ok so now you are thinking why is that bad? I am not diabetic: well when your body doesn’t respond properly to insulin, your body has trouble processing fats from your bloodstream, so it ends up storing them as fat.

So it’s not so much that if you sleep, you’ll lose weight, but that too little sleep hampers your metabolism and contributes to weight gain.


Tricks and Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

In today’s world, snoozing can be difficult, particularly when all your screens (computers, TVs, cell phones, tablets, the hot guy you just met on tinder) lure you into staying up just a little longer.

The basics are pretty simple:

  • Shut down your computer, cell phone, and TV at least an hour before you hit the sack.

  • Save your bedroom for sleep and sex. Think relaxation and release, rather than work or entertainment.

  • Create a bedtime ritual. It’s not the time to tackle big issues. Instead, take a warm bath, meditate, or read.

  • Stick to a schedule, waking up and retiring at the same times every day, even on weekends. (although I must admit it’s not always for me either).

  • Watch what and when you eat. Avoid eating heavy meals and alcohol close to bedtime, which may cause heartburn and make it hard to fall asleep. And steer clear of soda, tea, coffee, and chocolate after 2 p.m. Caffeine can stay in your system for 5 to 6 hours.

  • Turn out the lights. Darkness cues your body to release the natural sleep hormone melatonin, while light suppresses it.

I know there are several young mummies who follow my blog – and I do understand that with young children following the above tips is difficult – unfortunately that is something that is beyond your control dear mummies, so I beg you do not over stress yourselves even more because of this.

I admire all of you for being able to maintain a fulltime/part time job; take care of the house and sleep 2 – 3 hours a night – unfortunately I have no advice for this phase in your life but I feel that this will help many of you accept that for the time being there are some things that are beyond your control. Tap yourselves on the back for being able to make everything work anyway and remember your kids will be out of this phase soon hopefully and you will be able to work on your healthy sleep routines.

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