“How Sleep Affects Weight Loss”
By Belinda Reynolds IsoWhey Dietitian
When it comes to losing weight or improving your general health, diet and exercise are certainly a high priority, however there are a number of other factors to consider. The amount of sleep you achieve each night can also have a significant impact on your metabolism, appetite, and ability to achieve and maintain a healthy weight (not to mention your overall wellbeing!).
Do you wake up craving sugar or caffeine?
Ongoing stress (whether it be severe emotional stress or mild, persistent stress) has been shown to have multiple negative influences on our hormones and neurotransmitters. These chemicals control many functions in the body, including (but not limited to) mood, sleep, blood sugar control, blood pressure, sexual function and immune function.
When the brain and body are unable to relax in order to achieve healthy sleep, this then perpetuates many of the imbalances in the body that stress has caused. As a result we can find ourselves looking to artificial pick-me-ups such as sugar and caffeine just to get through the day. In reality, the body would benefit more from protein, fibre, good fats and lots of nutrients, to provide it with the nutrition it desperately craves.
Imbalanced stress hormones can contribute to weight gain
Imbalances in hormones caused by stress and sleep deprivation may lead to complications such as blood glucose imbalance and slowed metabolism. Furthermore, whenever you eat the high-sugar foods you’re craving, the spike in insulin can increase the storage of fat in the body, and leave you fatigued an hour or so later. Cortisol imbalances can also impact your exercise performance and recovery, meaning that it is also impacting your ability to get the most from your workout.
Less sleep = More stress
The average adult needs roughly eight hours (7-9 depending on the individual) of optimal sleep per night; the type of sleep that is deep and uninterrupted where you wake up feeling refreshed and super charged for the day. During this type of sleep a large number of processes occur which include repair and recovery throughout all areas of the body (this includes the muscles and brain). When this healing process is hindered, your brain is left “inflamed”. Put simply, stress and lack of sleep is making your brain sick. This contributes to brain fog (i.e. difficulty thinking/concentrating), and also a reduced ability to cope with stressful situations and calm down after a stressful situation has occurred. Many people, when stressed and foggy-headed like this, will reach to band-aid “pick-me-up” solutions which are often unhealthy and not supporting their wellbeing (and weight) in the long term.
When you start sleeping more, and fill your diet with nutrient and antioxidant-rich foods, your brain will start to heal, your in-built coping mechanisms will improve, your motivation will then often follow, and so too will better habits.
Experiencing difficulty sleeping?
Consider the following;
• Ensure that you are not consuming too much caffeine close to bed time, and remove any refined carbohydrates and sugar from the four hours before you’re due to retire for the evening.
• Caffeine and sugar each play havoc with you body’s normal hormonal rhythms that control the sleep/wake cycle.
• Try dimming the lights for the hour before your head to bead and try to avoid the temptation to stare at your phone, iPad, laptop or other electronic device.
• The light emitted from electronic devices are very stimulating for the brain and will impact your sleep.
• You can also try a quick meditation or a few calming yoga poses before bed.
This content includes extracts of the new IsoWhey Weight Management program e-book, free to download.