How Sleep Affects Weight Gain

Anandi - The Sleep Guru

When we are having trouble sleeping we often find that we develop another problem, alongside being sleep deprived. When we don’t sleep properly, our metabolism doesn’t work brilliantly either - and weight gain can become a real problem.

Our hunger is regulated by our hormones, and our hormones are disrupted by a lack of sleep. Grehlin is produced when the stomach is empty; it tells us we need to eat. Once we have eaten enough, a hormone called leptin goes up to the brain and says “ok, we’ve had enough now and you can stop eating!”

The problem is that when you’re exhausted and stressed, you don’t make the most healthy food choices. We often crave sugary, processed foods when we’re tired - because we think they’ll keep us going, and we feel like we’re too tired to stand and create a proper, healthy meal. But sugar disrupts how leptin is recognised in the body, and when we’re sleep deprived there’s not much leptin around any way. Have you ever wondered how you can sit and mindlessly eat an entire bag of sweets without feeling full or even really realising what you’re doing? That’s because the sugar in the sweets is hindering leptin; it can’t get to your brain and tell you to stop eating! When we’re tired, it’s even harder for leptin to reach the brain and tell it to stop eating. We often end up over eating, which can then make us feel worse and then stop us from sleeping well the next night.

So when we’re tired, we crave junk food - and our bodies can’t tell us when we’re full up so we eat way more of it than we normally would! What’s the answer?

When you’re tired, no matter how exhausted you are, don’t reach for the junk food. Don’t grab an energy drink, whatever you do! In actual fact, a large glass of water can be a lot more help in perking you up. And studies have shown that eating an apple can be more effective at making you feel awake than a cup of coffee - because of the work you do in chewing and digesting it.

I know it’s hard when you’re really tired, but it’s worth putting in that extra effort and making healthier food choices. This will help you to keep your weight under control, but might also have the added bonus of helping you to get a better night’s sleep because your body is not busy trying to digest junk food and sugar all night.

This is a guest blog post by The Sleep Guru. Contact our wellness consultants for more information on retreats specialising in sleep and weight loss, or call 020 7843 3597.

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