With our busy lives, we always think that we can just sleep a little less and get a bit more done, not realizing the importance of sleep and how a lack of it interferes with our overall well-being. Getting proper amounts of sleep is often an overlooked part of successful weight loss.
Sleep restores, renews, rejuvenates and heals us. Sleep also assists in keeping all of the systems of the body working properly. Getting enough sleep assists the body in metabolizing food, especially carbohydrates, and stabilizing your glucose and insulin levels, which prevents excessive storage of body fat. Adequate sleep is a contributing factor in successful weight loss and is an easy way to help boost any weight-loss plan.
A good diet and exercise routine is key to weight loss, but sleep also an important part of the weight-loss equation. Thinking you can skimp on sleep, or catch up on it later, is a mindset that is counterproductive A lack of sleep not only interferes with the functions of the body that assist in weight loss, but it also significantly interferes with your hormones, which recent studies have proven can adversely effect your weight.
Sleep and Hormones Grhelin and Leptin
The hormones ghrelin and leptin work together in regulating our appetite and food consumption and are a central link between sleep and weight loss. Ghrelin is responsible for regulating your food cravings and feelings of hunger, and leptin tells the body when to stop eating. When grhelin and leptin are compromised, the outcome is this vicious cycle of being hungry all the time and not knowing when to stop eating. A lack of sleep, especially over a long period, throws these hormones out of balance and greatly impacts your weight loss, even if you are eating well and exercising.
The Hormone Cortisol and Sleep
There is a link between cortisol, sleep and weight loss. Cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone” released by the adrenal glands, has received a great deal of attention because of its link to stress and weight gain. When you are not getting enough sleep, your body is stressed, which heightens cortisol levels. The body goes into “flight or fight” mode and stores fat, particularly in the abdominal area.
Eight hours of sleep each night remains the recommended amount to positively affect weight loss and your overall health. Some people might require a bit more or less sleep, but the point is to not negate the importance of getting enough sleep. For a restful night’s sleep, minimize caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bedtime. Avoid eating heavy foods and exercising just before sleep. Make it a ritual to unwind a half-hour to before you go to bed by doing something relaxing. Make sure that your bedroom is dark and peaceful.
Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and board-certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter