Sleep and Health Benefits
When we think about health, our first thought is not to consider our sleep habits. But did you know that without sleep, our health including waist lines and mental health can be hugely impacted. There’s more to be said about the link between sleep and weight loss so let’s take a look.
Negative Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep
How do you usually feel when you don’t get a good night’s sleep? Lethargic, cranky, slow, a bit off? There’s many ways we can feel when we don’t get enough sleep, or our sleep is interrupted (new born baby, sick child anyone, nightmares, stress? We’ve all had a bad night’s sleep before and it can really affect how you function the next day or so. Did you know it can also affect your waistline and mental well being as well?
Poor sleep over a period of time can also affect chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. It can also affect your mental health and well being. Our mental health can be managed naturally in many different ways, including diet and nutrition, movement aka exercise, and good sleep patterns. You can read more about natural ways to boost how we feel here.
Hormones Involved in Sleep and Health
Did you know that hormones are affected by not getting enough sleep which impacts on our appetite.
Stress also contributes to whether we can get a good night’s sleep, which then as an effect on weight loss if we aren’t getting enough sleep. So if we can reduce our stress levels, which can lead to a high quality sleep then our appetite can also be managed better. The hormones that run high when we are stressed include adrenaline and cortisol. So if these hormones are released on a regular basis, our sleep can also be affected.
Let’s take a look at the hormones involved in our eating habits.
Grehlin – the Hunger Hormone
Grehlin is a hormone that our body produces in the stomach which sends signals to our brain that we are hungry. So when we are hungry, these levels are high, and when we have had something to eat and no longer hungry, levels of grehlin are low. The trick here is that grehlin is only produces when we get a good night’s sleep. When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies produce more Grehlin which makes us have the feeling of being hungry. More than what our body actually needs. So if we don’t get enough sleep, levels of grehlin are higher than normal levels, which makes us feel more hungry. Consequently this leads to eating more than our bodies need.
Leptin – Appetite Suppressant
The hormone called Leptin is known for its ability to suppress our appetite. It is released from fat cells. When present it makes us feel full.
When we don’t sleep for long enough each night, this hormone doesn’t get released so it doesn’t work as effectively. This makes us feel hungry because leptin isn’t there to make us feel full. Basically, an 8 hour sleep will allow Leptin be released which suppresses the appetite. Therefore, if we aren’t getting enough sleep, this valuable hormone doesn’t get released at its optimum level, so we end up with increased appetite.
So on those days we feel super hungry and find it hard to put down that fork, it might be more than just your will power. It’s more likely that you haven’t had enough sleep, or have developed a habit of sleeping fewer hours per night.
Grehlin and Leptin hormones work in conjunction with each other, so if you want to listen to your body’s signals about how hungry or full you are, be sure to get a good night’s sleep.
Hormones That Affect Our Sleep Quality
Melatonin is a hormone produced in your body from getting exposure to sunlight. This helpful hormone helps us get to sleep at night. If we don’t get out in the sun that often, it can affect how much melatonin our body produces which can impact our sleep. So even though we need to be careful in the sun, try to get at least 30 minutes a day where you are exposed to the sun’s rays to help boost your melatonin and support you getting a good night’s sleep.
Cortisol is one of the hormones that are present when we perceive threat and feel like we need to fight or run (flight). Our body responds to stress or danger when released and reduces inflammation. Cortisol also helps maintain normal blood pressure. It is usually maintained at the right balance. It will be released if there is a threat and lower when the threat has gone. If the balance gets out of whack, then it can cause a variety of issues including sleep disruptions. When you notice that your stress levels are higher over a long period of time, it’s important to find ways to lower those stress levels to prevent health issues. Learning how to meditate and relieve stress can be a valuable tool on your health journey.
Effects on Weight from Not Getting Enough Sleep
Our brain is affected when we are sleep deprived. The frontal lobe which helps us think and make decisions is less activated when we don’t get enough sleep so it’s harder to resist tempting unhealthy foods. It lowers our ability to control our choices for healthier options and practice self control.
The reward centre of our brain is also more activated when sleep deprived. This makes it more likely to indulge in sugary treats whilst also making them more enjoyable.
Lack of sleep or less sleep than is recommended, also increases the amount of food you eat including the portion sizes of your food.
It’s harder to make healthy choices and have more willpower when we are tired and have had less sleep.
Tips to Help You Sleep Better
Don’t use any screens an hour before going to sleep.
There’s a lot to be said for the impact that fragrance have on our health and well being. This includes certain oils having a positive effect on helping one get to sleep. Oils that help in relaxation include:
Science is exploring whether aromas can influence sleep too. Here’s a scientific experiment which shows how scents affect the quality of sleep for nurses working night shifts.
A reliable place to source aromatherapy oils is through Healing Natural Oils. They don’t include artificial fragrances which can often cause allergic reactions.
There are many guided meditations that help people fall asleep. Personally, I’ve found that I’ve developed a conditioned response to getting to sleep quickly since practicing regular nightly meditations. It has something to do with the development of neural pathways that can be changed when practicing a new behaviour. So if you find meditation doesn’t work at first, you might need to practice it regularly for at least 3 weeks for your brain to develop new neural pathways. For some helpful meditations for relaxation check out this program.
Meditation has also been shown to help relieve stress and anxiety, as discussed in this article.
It also helps with reducing blood pressure.
This is another option available that can support your efforts to develop a good sleep routine if you are struggling. Homeopathy has been around for many years. It uses a combination of plant, mineral and animal substances to help the person heal. It can be a helpful complementary addition to help develop a good sleep routine.
Journal Your Activities
To help track your sleep patterns, as well as what you’ve eaten, drunk, what exercise you’ve done and mood. By keeping a record you will be able to monitor your activities so you can see any patterns that might need to be tweaked or what affects your sleep.
If you are really struggling to get into healthy sleep patterns you might consider supplements to help you relax and unwind. These guys have specific sleep support supplements as well as supplements that also help with calming your mind to help you get to sleep with GABA calming support and Serotonin Mood Support.
Develop a Sleep Routine for Your Health
The above list can all become a part of your sleep routine to help establish an effective sleep pattern which in turn will help your body produce the hormones you need to be able to better manage your weight and appetite.
By now, you have a clearer picture of the value of sleep for weight loss and health. Weight loss and well-being isn’t only affected by our thoughts or what we’ve eaten necessarily. There’s much more to our health than calories in and calories out. So even if you don’t follow a ketogenic way of eating, getting better sleep can help you feel better mentally and help you manage what you eat which will have a positive impact on your health and waist line.
Here’s to a good night’s sleep. If your sleep has been interrupted and has impacted your health or you’ve had success by improving your sleep patterns, please share what you did to improve your sleep and manage your weight loss goals. Leave your comments below.