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Why is sleep so important – sleep and weight loss

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.

sleep and weight loss

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.sleep and weight loss

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

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

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

Screen time

Don’t use any screens an hour before going to sleep.

Aromatherapy

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:

  • Lavender
  • Vanilla
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Vetiver
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Bergamot
  • SandalwoodGet a good night sleep naturally

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.

Meditation

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.

Homeopathy

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.

Supplements

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.

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10 thoughts on “Why is sleep so important – sleep and weight loss

  1. Very interesting content,I have learnt a lot and will take this advice on board as I am currently trying to lose weight. Thank you!
    1. Hi Diane, welcome and thanks for leaving a comment. I'm glad to hear you're able to take something helpful away with you today. All the best in your weight loss journey. Let me know if you need any further support with your weight loss journey and how you're progressing. Cheers, Kat
  2. What a great post. I never really thought that sleep and weight loss were related. The issues you have raised apply to me some how. I have recently been feeling drowsy every morning. I often sleep for about 6 hours. Do you think this is what's causing this? Should I change my routine? Thanks
    1. Hi Fatsani, thanks for stopping by. It sounds like you may not be getting enough sleep, but there can be numerous other reasons why you wake up drowsy. If you can examine what your current routine is, this might give you some insight into what needs to change if you feel there is a need to change. Other things to consider is your iron levels, as this is a common reason for people to struggle with feeling tired even during the day. You might want to consider going to see your GP and get a blood test to determine if there might be other underlying issues. All the best ~kat
  3. Hi Kat, great article. Sleep is so important for us and I'm so happy I found your article which just proves it. I'm a personal trainer and diet specialist and I always say to my clients that sleep is very important for weight loss and you explained in detail why. Also if we don't get enough sleep we just won't be able to build muscle, because again, cortisol affects our testosterone level and reduces the growth hormones, because of that reason I always say to people that sleep and rest are as much important for muscle growth as food and training. I will bookmark your page to show this article to my client. And also great tips on how to improve sleep. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!
    1. Hi Marius, thanks heaps for stopping by and sharing your own insights. It's always good to get extra info and learn more from a different perspective ie muscle gain and how cortisol affects growth of muscles too. Sleep is highly valuable for so many aspects of our health. All the best and thanks for sharing with your clients ~ kat
  4. Hey Kat, Wow! Nice article! tons of information and I always knew that if you don't get enough sleep it will affect your body in so many different ways! I have Fibromyalgia and Hypothyroidism and I am always fighting being sleeping all day and sluggish. Do you have any ideas as to what I can do? Then, at night, I have insomnia and have a hard time getting the sleep I need. I would appreciate any ideas you might have to help me with this problem! Awesome article! All my best, Donna Rayne
    1. Hi Donna Rayne, thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience with your sleep issues. Insomnia is a tricky one, it can happen for so many reasons. I'm finding that as I get older, I too occasionally experience insomnia and I don't have any worries or ongoing thoughts that keep me awake, I just can't sleep. Hence having some experience in working on how to get to sleep if struggling lol! So in answer to your question, having the conditions you have, I imagine this isn't helping with your sleep routine. It is important to try not to nap during the day if at all possible, as this can help you get to sleep if you've been getting insomnia. It might also help if you avoid caffeine from about 5 pm onwards, and instead have some relaxing tea such as camomile if you can, as this can also help you wind down. My other blog has discussed the value of meditation which you might want to consider that can also help with relaxing your mind. Feel free to come back and let me know of any progress if any in overcoming the insomnia. Cheers ~kat
  5. As someone who struggles with falling asleep, frequently, this was an enlightening article. I experience anxiety quite a bit, which probably explains why I can't fall asleep sometimes, because of that cortisol, like you mentioned! I'll give melatonin a try since I've heard good things from other people, too. Thanks for the thorough article, it's interesting to read about how much sleep is important to our health.
    1. Hey Daniel, thanks for sharing your experience with sleep issues. If you've got cortisol running around your system, also try to develop ways to manage your stress levels and anxiety. I hope the melatonin can help you with falling asleep which will also hopefully help you manage the anxiety and improve your health. I've got another website where I've discussed how to help manage stress and anxiety, here's the link. All the best ~ kat

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