Sleep Your Way to Better Health
For years, researchers have been looking into sleep, trying to understand its purpose, the benefits it reaps, and the processes that take place in our bodies when we are asleep. Interestingly enough, better appetite control and protection against weight gain were among the benefits of sufficient sleep. Various studies across the globe have proven that sleeping enough on a daily basis is important if we are to maintain normal appetites, make smart eating decisions, and avoid excess hunger and/or over-eating. It’s not simply about skimping on sleep once a week. Dangers to health and weight come from consistent sleep deprivation, something that is increasingly common in American society. Sources such as WebMD break it down simply for us to understand:
- Frequent sleep deprivation leaves us tired and groggy, which drives us to make poor decisions.
- Our frontal lobe, where judgment is controlled, becomes slightly impaired when we are sleepy beyond normal.
- Regularly giving our body less sleep than it needs affects two hormones that control feelings of hunger and fullness: Ghrelin and Leptin
- The changes in our hormones lead to the wrong signals, which lead to over-eating and, combined with impaired judgment ability, poor decisions.
Ghrelin tells us that we’re hungry, and leptin tells us that we’re full. Sleep deprivation causes leptin levels in our body to drop. This, in turn, tells our brain that we need to eat more. Unless we have the ability to cope with these changes and can build the self-control to keep sleep deprivation from affecting our diet choices and our waistline, it is important to do our best to avoid consistent sleep deprivation. Why?
Even one day of sleeping less than needed can lead to poor decisions. When on a weight loss journey, these poor decisions are not at all helpful to our goals. Not only will we be more likely to eat out instead of take the time to prepare healthy foods (or make the right choices), but we will also probably throw in the towel when it comes to getting in our daily workout. Unfortunately, if we make lack of sleep a habit, these bad choices become our reality and completely derail our weight loss/maintenance efforts.
The best solution, of course, is to do your best to make sure that you’re getting enough sleep on as many nights as possible. With work, stress, and life circumstances, that is not always possible. Because of this, it’s important to recognize when you are sleep-deprived, to be aware of changes in your appetite and in your decision-making abilities, and to train yourself to handle the situation as best as possible if and when you are sleep-deprived. If you’re interested in learning more about the connection between sleep and weight, talk to your weight loss consultant today!