Can Lack of Sleep Cause us to Gain Weight?
Most people are aware of the effects of sleep deprivation on their physical and emotional health, however not many people know of the link between lack of sleep and weight gain.
If you’re dieting and exercising and not seeing results, or even – heaven forbid – actually gaining weight, lack of sleep could well be the culprit.
Why is this? Well it’s all about hormones; specifically our hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the good guy. It’s produced by the fat cells and when levels of leptin are high, it sends a message of satiety to our brain that says, “I’m satisfied, I don’t need to eat.” Ghrelin, on the other end is produced in the stomach and is a hunger stimulant. It tells the brain, “I need food! Give me more… NOW!”
In a study conducted by the University of Bristol, people who habitually had under five hours sleep at night had significant differences in the hormones leptin and ghrelin as compared with people who slept an average of seven to eight hours a night.
Normally the body regulates these two fairly well. But if you’re sleep deprived, these hormones can get seriously out of whack, which is why you’re always hungry when you’re tired. Either that or you tend to crave sugary sweet food. It’s simply your body trying to find more energy.
The simple answer is to simply get more sleep. But what happens when sleep is hard to come by? If you go to bed with the best intentions, but sleep doesn’t come? Or you fall asleep easily, but you wake up at 3 a.m. and it’s impossible to get back to sleep?
First realise that you’re not alone. There are thousands, if not millions of people who have trouble finding sleep.
So what can you do?
First understand that trouble falling sleep is usually caused by stress. Yes there are other causes; sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea is one example, early menopause symptoms and chronic pain can also keep people awake. But usually stress is the culprit.
If I can give you one tip, this is it. Most people wait until the evening to practice some form of stress relief. To get rid of stress more effectively, practice stress relief during the day as well. This prevents stress from accumulating all day and possibly interfering with your sleep at night. Stress relief can be as simple as deep breathing, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), or meditation.
Or it can be as simple as deciding that you’re not going to become stressed. You are not your thoughts, which means that you have control. Be the observer of your thought and emotions. This can be hard at first, but becomes easier with practice.
I hope that you found something of value in this article. If you want to learn more, I have a free workshop in which I explain further how I and my clients overcame insomnia. There’s nothing for sale; just useful information. To sign up, simply follow this link – SLEEP
I wish you peace and, of course, better sleep!
Wendy Owen (Diploma in Holistic Health)
Wendy Owen is a best selling author of 4 books on natural health. She has a diploma in Holistic Health and has researched the subject of natural health and wellness for over 40 years.
Wendy is also a sleep coach who is on a mission to help women fall asleep faster and stay asleep all night.
Wendy lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her partner, her dog Peaches and around 40 parrots. She enjoys reading, researching and bush-walking.