Lack of sleep can be preventing you from losing weight.
Weight loss and management is something we all consider from time to time, but with over 67% of Australian’s over 18 being overweight or obese it’s a good thing that it’s on our radar. There are both physical and mental health risks associated with obesity, so it’s a positive thing that we are always trying to find ways to take better care of ourselves and our families.
Diet and exercise are cited as the main areas requiring change, but there are other factors which contribute to living a healthy, balanced lifestyle… sleep being one of the most important. Over the past few decades, both sleep quality and quantity has declined. In fact, many people regularly get poor sleep.
Lack of sleep, what’s the problem?
- Research by the Sleep Health Foundation has found between 33 and 45 per cent of Aussies have poor sleep patterns
- Poor quality or short sleep duration increases the likelihood of obesity. A study from researchers at the University of Colorado found that one week of sleeping about 5 hours a night led participants to gain an average of 2 pounds.
- Sleep deprivation causes changes to hormones that regulate hunger and appetite. The hormone leptin suppresses appetite and encourages the body to expend energy. Sleep deprivation reduces leptin. The hormone ghrelin, on the other hand, triggers feelings of hunger—and ghrelin goes up when you’re short on sleep.
- Sleep deprivation changes what foods you’re most interested in eating, creating more intense cravings for fat and sugar-laden foods.
I don’t think we need too much convincing to get a better night’s sleep, but perhaps it needs to be higher on our agenda. So how can we try to get a better night’s sleep?
Tips for a better night’s sleep
- Increase bright light exposure during the day. Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration
- Reduce blue light exposure in the evening. Sorry that’s your smart phone. Again, this is due to its impact on your circadian rhythm, tricking your brain into thinking it is still daytime. This reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get deep sleep
- Try to sleep and wake at consistent times: Your body’s circadian rhythm functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset. Being consistent with your sleep and waking times can aid long-term sleep quality
- Cut the alcohol: Downing a couple of drinks at night can negatively affect your sleep and hormones. Alcohol is known to cause or increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring and disrupted sleep patterns
Maintaining a healthy body for us and our children is so important. If you’re struggling with weight loss or management, have a look at your sleep patterns and see if there’s work to be done.