Can Poor Quality Sleep Contribute to Weight Gain? You Bet it Can!

So we can all agree that good quality sleep is important right? Well sure it is!  Good quality sleep improves our energy levels. While we sleep it is the key time for our bodies to detoxify and to repair. Sleep helps us to keep our circadian rhythms moving along just tickety-boo. And darn it, a good night’s sleep can just make us happier.

But did you know that another bonus of a good night’s sleep is that it helps us to eat better. Yep a good night’s sleep helps us to make better food choices while we are awake.  This is because sleeping well, on a regular basis, helps to keep the hormones ghrelin and leptin in balance.  Ghrelin is a hormone that increases our appetite and leptin is a hormone that tells our brain that we have had enough to eat.

Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation can decrease plasma levels of leptin and increase plasma levels of ghrelin.  And increased levels of ghrelin due to poor quality sleep can lead to increased portion sizes of food and the increased hunger can cause us to make poor food choices.  I am sure that I don’t need to connect the dots for you.  Poor food choices and larger quantities of them can lead to unwanted weight gain and the cascade of health issues that can result from excess weight.

So what does “partial” sleep deprivation mean?  Well as little as 2 consecutive nights of 4 hours of sleep can do it!  It doesn’t take much does it?

The question then becomes, how do we cultivate good quality sleep?  Well it comes down to habits and routines and a few tips along the way.

Sleep in the dark

Sleeping in the dark helps with the production of the hormone melatonin.  Melatonin is important for regulating our circadian rhythm, our internal clock that helps to regulate our sleep.

Sleep in a cool room

As you drift in to La La Land your body begins to cool down.  Sleeping in a cool environment helps facilitate sleep during this stage.

Go to bed at the same time each night

When you have a consistent bedtime it actually signals to your body that rest is coming.  Back to that internal clock theme.

Shut off electronics

Your brain needs time to wind down before sleep.  Shut your television and electronics off at least a half hour before bedtime to let your brain cool down and get in to a restful state.

Don’t eat close to bedtime

If your body is working hard to digest food it is not in a restful state.  Have your last bite of food at least 2 hours before bedtime ideally though around the 3 hour mark.

The benefits of good quality sleep cannot be overstated and cultivating good bedtime habits is a big piece of your health puzzle.

 

References:

Metabolic and endocrine effects of sleep deprivation

A single night of sleep deprivation increases ghrelin levels and feelings of hunger in normal‐weight healthy men

Association of Sleep Adequacy With More Healthful Food Choices and Positive Workplace Experiences Among Motor Freight Workers

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