Losing weight is not just about cutting back calories and exercising, now the science is clear that sleep can have a serious impact on our weight and the foods we choose to eat. Our busy lives and crazy schedules can create challenges to getting enough sleep. So many individuals suffer from chronic sleep deprivation i.e. parents with young children or people with sleep disorders. Doctors have known for a long time that insomnia affects hormone levels,however, there has been a more recent understanding about how appetite and weight are also influenced. Specifically, the hormones leptin and ghrelin have a role in sleep and weight. Ghrelin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract and helps stimulate appetite. Leptin is produced in fat cells and signals to the brain when you are full. Chronic insomnia reduces leptin levels and raises ghrelin levels, causing increased hunger and less satisfaction after consuming food, which leads to overeating and weight gain.
A recent study published in the journal “Obesity” found that men with insomnia purchased significantly more food and calories after a sleep deprived night than they did after a night of normal sleep. This shows that this disruption in hormone levels has a direct and negative impact on food choices.
Other studies have found that people who sleep less than eight hours a night not only have lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin, but they also have a higher level of body fat. The bottom line is that those who don't get enough sleep are at risk of weighing more. However, it's important to understand that it's not just about hours of sleep, but also quality of sleep. Individuals with obstructive sleep apnea, a condition associated with obesity that causes breathing disruptions during sleep, may go to bed early, but still wake up feeling exhausted. If you suspect you or a loved one may have sleep apnea it is important to seek treatment from your physician. Try our sleep tips below to get the the best sleep possible:
1. Cut out all electronics before bed to incldued television, computers and cell phones since they stimulate the mind and make it more difficult to be restful.
2. Cut back on caffeine...especially late afternoon and evenings. Some people can feel the effects of caffeine for up to 12 hours so choose decaffeinated beverages in the afternoon.
3. Only mild, exercise like gentle yoga before bed. Exercise is great for sleep, but it can keep the brain from relaxing. A regular workout routine that involves exercise early in the day is best for restful sleep.
4. If you suffer from indigestion or heartburn or notice that large meals negatively affect your ability to sleep, try to avoid eating three hours before bedtime.
5. Avoid tyramine-rich foods such as pork, cheese, chocolate, tomatoes, and potatoes before bedtime, which the body converts to noradrenaline, a brain stimulant.
6. Establish a bedtime sleep routine that involves dimming the lights and helps you relax, signaling your mind that it is time to unwind.
7. Limit or avoid alcohol as it disrupts the body's natural sleep patterns
8. Eliminate any sleep distractions in your bedroom such as electronics that buzz or have bright lights. Bright lights stimulate the brain.
9. Cool down your bedroom. Best sleeping temperature is 68 F. Use moisture wicking pajamas and cooling bedding to include, cool sheets, cooling pillows and cooling mattress pads.