If sleep doesn’t have any calories, how can too much or too little make you fat? Why would you need sleep to lose weight?
Well we all know that sleep itself doesn’t have any calories but it effects our hormones; it impacts how much we eat and what foods we choose to eat. The choices we make everyday impact our hormones. If these choices disrupt our hormones, it can alter your gene expression and lead to obesity and ageing of cells.
Sleep to Lose Weight
Stress is metabolic tension and comes in many forms, including eating too little food, not enough of the right foods, not eating often enough, sleep deprivation, exercise, and emotional/mental stress. Anytime the body is under stress, cortisol is secreted in the body. Cortisol causes cravings for fat, sugar and salt! Your lack of sleep could be the reason you feel like you can’t get your cravings under control!
Lack of Sleep Affects Fat Loss
Sleep deprivation has the same effects on the body as over-exercising. This stops your ability to lose weight in its tracks. Both make you leptin resistant (leptin is the hormone secreted from your fat cells that tells your brain you have enough fat on your body, it’s ok to stop eating) and raises ghrelin (your hunger hormone). Lack of sleep (and over-exercise) makes you insatiably hungry!
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That’s right; you aren’t imagining that insatiable hunger the days after you don’t sleep. Your body literally cannot hear the signals from your fat cells saying STOP EATING and your stomach continues to send the signal “I’m hungry” even after you have had enough food!
Sleep deprivation (as well as long duration cardio) lowers human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is the hormone responsible for muscle building and fat burning (only when paired with testosterone). This means that a lack of sleep will hinder your body’s ability to build muscle and burn fat effectively.
Lack of sleep has also been tied to memory loss since the brain “relives” the day and helps store things into your memory. Without enough sleep, the brain is not able to make these connections and memories are lost.
Not sleeping can cause the brain to have trouble regulating feelings. This can lead to extreme emotional swings or unexplained anger. It has also been shown to impair our ability to focus, and have a difficult time processing things. This is why it’s often hard to complete even normal tasks when you are lacking sleep.
I have some simple ways to increase both sleep quantity and quality!
You need sleep to lose weight and if you are having sleep issues, balancing out blood sugar and regulating GABA (a neurotransmitter) is key! GABA is one of the relaxing neurotransmitters in the brain, and if it is low, the brain has a hard time relaxing. Branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) can help raise GABA naturally! Other ways to raise GABA naturally are supplementing with passionflower, skullcap leaf, lemon balm, and thiamine (from green tea) all have a relaxing effect in the brain.
One of my favorite ways to increase GABA is through sipping hot tea! Yogi Bedtime Tea is perfect – it combines valerian root, passionflower, lemon balm, skullcap leaf, and a number of other herbs to help your body naturally relax, and allow you to sleep deeper.
Get Better Sleep
Things to consider if you are having trouble falling asleep at night:
- Time of your last meal – if it was hours ago, you may need to move your meal timing a little closer to bedtime
- Were there any starchy carbs in the meal?
- What time was your last caffeinated beverage?
- Use of blue light emitting devices – television, computer, phones. All interrupt circadian rhythm.
To fall asleep naturally, the body lowers cortisol and raises melatonin. Blue light interrupts this rhythm by disrupting the melatonin secretion. This causes us to spike our cortisol at night, making it difficult to fall asleep. This can also make waking up the next day very difficult, as the body raises cortisol to help us wake up.
Stop The Night Time Wake Up
If you wake up at night things to consider:
- Time of the last meal
- Protein in meal – if you can increase the protein and fiber in the last meal, this can help you stay asleep through the night
- If you wake up and can’t go back to sleep, often eating some starch can help
If you are having trouble sleeping, whether it’s because you feel wired but tired, you find yourself sleeping lightly, or you are constantly waking up numerous times in the night, there are some changes you can make to your diet. First, you may need to move your last meal to a little later in the evening (or go to bed earlier).
Also, be sure your last meal of the day is full of protein and fiber. If you wake up restless or you find yourself feeling wired or tired, you will likely need to eat some starch to get to sleep. This is because these symptoms are often due to the body having to utilize catecholamines, your stress hormones, to raise blood sugar.
These stress hormones are what make you feel wired but tired. Eating starch (you only need a few bites) instantly raises your blood sugar, so the body doesn’t have to keep secreting these catecholamines, and you will have an easier time getting to sleep. This is often an issue in people who go on low starch diets.
Make it a priority to sleep to lose weight with the above tips! Check out my top tips on creating a relaxing nighttime routine!
What about you?
- Do you have problems sleeping at night?
- What are your tips for a good night’s sleep?