The Sleep and Weight Connection
The food is only one part of your weight and wellness journey. How well you sleep affects your wellness and waistline as much as the healthy foods you eat, and the exercise you practice.
Sleep deprivation messes up the hormones that regulate hunger, causing an increase in appetite and specific cravings for calorie-dense, high-carbohydrate foods. So after a long night of poor rest, it isn’t your lousy willpower, there is actually a hormonal drive willing you to reach for the bacon egg and cheese 7am instead of your normal healthy breakfast of hard boiled eggs and berries.
Research shows that sleeping only 4 hours per night for 2 nights causes leptin — the hormone that tells your body to stop eating — to drop 18%. And levels of ghrelin — the hormone that says “eat more”– jump 28 percent. Aha! That’s why every cell in your body is screaming for donuts!
Now keep in mind this happened after just 2 nights of sleep deprivation…just imagine what happens after weeks and weeks of missing sleep! No wonder your pants are tight, right?! Most of us experience bouts of poor sleep during the year and science connects that right to our waistlines.
Need more statistics?
Adults are supposed to get about 7-9 hours of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. If you only get 6 hours, your risk of developing obesity rises 23%, if you only get 5, it increases 50%, and if you only get 4, it increases a whopping 73%!
Tips to better shut-eye:
If you wake up to pee, stop drinking 2 hours before bedtime and try to go right before you turn in for the night.
If you fall asleep, but wake up a few hours later, give up all alcohol for a few days and see if it helps, or jot down your biggest stressors in a journal immediately before you turn in to quiet your mind.
If you’re sleeping, but not feeling rested, flip your mattress, adjust the temperature in your bedroom, buy yourself new pillows or invest in snore-strips for your wake-the-dead, apnea challenged spouse.
Can’t fall asleep? Ditch the caffeine after noontime and exercise in the morning, rather than the evening.
Tuck your technology in 30 minutes or more before turning in. Studies show the light from your smartphone interferes with restfulness.
If you sleep well, you’ll eat a better breakfast tomorrow morning, which might motivate you to eat a better lunch, which might motivate you to hit the gym, which might make you sleep better tomorrow night, which might help you drop those pounds you’ve been struggling with. Focus on your rest as much as your food. You’ll be happy you did!