How Getting a Good Night’s (Or Day’s) Sleep Affects Your Weight
By Susan Manez MS,RD,CDN
Adequate sleep duration and good sleep quality are of utmost importance in promoting healthy weight loss and maintenance. Sleep can affect your weight and overall health. This is according to multiple studies that have established that a lack of sleep can lead to increased body fat.
Poor, inadequate sleep can affect your body’s release and use of several hormones that may be related to weight gain. These hormones include
- Growth hormone,
- Thyroid hormones,
- Insulin, and,
- The “stress hormone” cortisol.
How lack of sleep can lead to increased body fat
When we don’t sleep enough, we produce less growth hormone, which results in
- Fat gain,
- Muscle loss,
- Slower metabolism.
If you are depressed or sleep less or poorly, you will suffer from elevated levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol can make us feel hungrier and increase our cravings for carbohydrates and sweets. This promotes weight gain and increases our bodies output of insulin.
Insulin is a hormone used to regulate our blood sugar levels. When it is increased in our blood stream it makes our bodies better at storing fat. In addition, when we are without enough sleep, we may tend to eat more to keep ourselves going, instead of going to bed earlier and achieving a restful night’s sleep. This creates a cycle of eating for more energy, which increases our calories and reduces the amount of sleep we get each night.
But all is not lost. There are things, including foods and supplements, that can help promote a better, more restful sleep. Below are some tips you may want to consider trying.
How to eat for a good night’s sleep
- Avoid stimulants, such as chocolate, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, MSG (often found in Chinese takeout and highly processed foods), and tobacco
- Eat foods high in tryptophan, a sleep-producing hormone, 3 hours before bed. These include turkey, bananas, figs, dates, fat free yogurt, and tuna.
- Avoid rich, heavy and/or spicy foods before bed. Also avoid eating within 3 hours of bed. Both these habits cause heartburn and reflux that may disrupt sleep.
- Avoid drinking at 90+ minute prior to bed to reduce your need to urinate throughout the night.
Hopefully at least one of these tips can help get your body and mind on the right track to a good night’s sleep. Sweet dreams!!