The secret to losing weight might be easier than you think – and perhaps it is something you already do everyday? It's common knowledge that in order to lose weight we need to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly, however there is another important component to weight loss that often gets undermined. Beauty sleep is important to glowing skin, a clear complexion and increased energy, however, many researchers are now saying that Sleep is also essential to maintaining and reaching a healthy weight. The key is to make sleep a priority. When you set aside enough time for the sleep, your body will begin to operate at its optimum level. If you are eating a balanced diet and getting sufficient exercise but can’t seem to shed those last few pounds, the problem could be that you are not giving your body the sleep that it requires to perform optimally.
To help achieve and maintain your weight goals especially after menopause it is important to develop sleep habits that work with your lifestyle. . Did you know that sleep deprivation can cause hormonal imbalance which can be an important factor in weight gain/ loss for women of every age. The two hormones that are primarily affected by lack of sleep are leptin and ghrelin. The function of these hormones is to work together to control the body’s feelings of hunger and fullness. Ghrelin, produced in the gastrointestinal tract, stimulates appetite, while leptin, produced in fat cells, sends a signal to the brain when you are full. Have you ever had a sleep deprived night followed by a day that no matter what you eat it neither satisfies nor fills you up? Sleep is the body’s time to rest and repair, and produce essential hormones. So lack of sleep, plus perimenopause and menopause can really through your hormones into a state of chaos. Lack of sleep causes leptin levels go down and as a result you don’t feel as satisfied after you eat. Sleep deprivation also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which stimulates the appetite and makes you crave more food. Getting enough sleep decreases the appetite during the day. If your body is recuperating and regenerating when asleep it doesn’t need as much fuel (food) to function during the day.
Sleep also relaxes the body, which is also important for weight loss. High stress levels cause the body to produce high amounts of a hormone called cortisol, which increases appetite and promotes the formation and deposition of fat in our body, particularly in the areas around the stomach and on the face and neck as well. A good night's sleep prevents this from occurring as it reduces stress and calms the mind and body. In simpler terms, ghrelin is hormone that tells you when to eat while leptin is the hormone and tells you to stop eating. When you are sleep deprived, you have more ghrelin hormones encouraging you to eat and less leptin hormones to tell you ‘no’.
The result? Your body craves more rich food and carbs and you’re prompted to grab a bag of chips for a snack rather than something healthy like an orange. In addition, your metabolism slows down and doesn’t function properly when you lack sleep, which causes you to consume more calories than you are burning. These poor food choices paired with a lack of exercise and low energy from insufficient sleep ultimately result in a growing waistline and a higher number on the scale. Additionally, extending the amount of hours you sleep each night prohibits you from consuming extra calories that you might eat if you were awake. Since we don’t eat in our sleep, we are limiting our calorie intake by getting more rest.
The solution to this dilemma is to achieve about 7.5 hours of sleep each night, the average amount of sleep needed for the body to restore and feel fully energized and alert. Experts agree that small changes can add up to big results when coupled with restful sleep. Consider these simple steps:
1. Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m. by switching to decaf so your body can slow down for a good night’s sleep
2. Add 20 minutes of low-intensity exercise a few hours before bedtime (think easy walking) yoga or pilates to improve sleep quality
3. Opt for a light low calorie snack before bed rather than carb-loaded meals and sugary treats.
4. Be sure to be relaxed and comfortable when you're ready to sleep. Make your sleep environment comfortable with wicking sleepwear and temperature regulating bedding. Both the cool wicking sleepwear and cooling bedding will help you create the optimum sleep environment. Proper sleep is very important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and is an easy, no cost way to keep your body healthy and working at it's optimum level.