Do you sleep enough to boost weight loss?

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Sleep More = Weigh Less

Most of us are aware that a good night sleep, can reap many rewards.  Especially if the routine is continued over time, benefits such as:

  • Stress reduction
  • Improved memory
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better all-round health
  • Enhanced recovery from illness and injury
  • Increase in fertility
  • Better mood

But were you aware that not getting at least 8 hours sleep per night can hinder your weight loss progress?

We all know when exhausted we make poor decisions, making skiving off exercise and reaching for calorific junk food easier.  It’s quick and simple to get hold of and swiftly satisfies hunger cravings.

Everyone at some point experiences tiredness from time to time this can lead to reaching for the takeaway menu.  Make sure it doesn’t form a habit, especially if we want to slim down and lose weight.

Hungry Hormones

Hormones play a big part in weight loss, they affect how hungry and full you feel.  A lack of sleep interferes with how these hormones perform.  The three hormones of interest are:

  • Leptin
  • Ghrelin
  • Cortisol

Leptin’s job is to let you know when to step away from the fridge, and push your plate away.  When suffering with a lack of sleep leptin levels crash sending a red flag to your brain encouraging you to eat more food.

Conversely ghrelin informs your brain of when it is time to raid the fridge and pick up your eating irons. When deprived from sleep you produce more ghrelin.

Once in a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation the two hormones collectively, can hinder weight loss and the ability of sticking to a weight loss programme.

The stress hormone cortisol is also impacted by sleep deprivation. It’s purpose is to store energy to be used when you’re awake. When sleepy your body is wired to cling on to the fat that should be burnt as energy while you’re up, about and functioning.

When these hormones are under control and you have a sound sleeping regime you are giving your body a better chance of losing weight.

Adopt Good Sleeping Habits

It’s very important to ensure effective, healthy sleep habits.  It can make a huge difference to your quality of life.  There are methods you can implement to promote a good night sleep.  Here are a few to help you on your way to the land of nod:

  1. Less is more…. sleep – Alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes should be avoided before bed.  Large heavy meals before bed can cause irritation and hamper the onset of sleep.
  2. Sleeping environment – It’s key that the conditions in your bedroom are suitable for sleeping.  The optimum temperature for sleeping is 15-20°C. 15°C may seem quite cool however there is a very good reason for this.  On going to sleep the temperature of your body reduces.  It starts to warm up again when your body is coming to the end of a stretch of sleep and preparing to wake up.  Consequently if you go to sleep in a cooler environment it is more probable that you will not stir or wake up as you are more relaxed and comfortable which leads to a better night’s sleep.
  3. Declutter your sleep – If your bedroom is clean, tidy and a nice tranquil place to be it helps relax you and put you in the state of mind for sleeping.
  4. It Mattress! –  It goes without saying, make sure you are comfortable when you are trying to fall asleep.  You spend up to one third of your life in bed therefore you need pillows and a mattress that are supportive as well as comfy.  Pillows and mattresses have a lifespan.  Check to see if yours are past their best, high quality mattresses usually last for about 8-10 years.
  5. Step away from the light – Your bedroom should also be dark and free from light.  This may be from electronic devices or light coming through your curtains, black out blinds or curtains and eye masks can help with this.
  6. SHHHH! – There should be no noise that could lead to sleep disruption.  This could be external noises such as busy traffic outside of your house or noise coming from a snoring partner.  If the noise is unavoidable (or unbearable) invest in some good quality ear plugs or put something like a fan or AC unit on to create some ‘white noise’.
  7. Implement a calming bedtime routine – Mothers follow this mantra every evening with young children.  So why don’t we do this as adults? Winding down before bed by staying away from electronic devices an hour before bed.  Alternatively partaking in relaxing activities such as a bath or reading can help take your mind off any stress or anxiety before you retire for the evening.
  8. Tick tock – Your body clock can have a lot to answer for when it comes to sleep.  It’s a good idea to get it synced with a particular bedtime that you can keep consistent and more or less stick to every night, including weekends.  In doing this you will help control your body clock and aid drifting off and enjoying a full night sleep.
  9. You snooze you lose – If you struggle sleeping at night you must steer clear of day time naps regardless of how tired you feel.

If you are struggling with sleep contact your GP or a medical professional. .