By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
There is a large amount of research indicating how long you sleep for can affect your weight. There are a few reasons why this is so.
Studies have shown that when we sleep for the recommended amount of 7-9hrs a night our weight loss may be more significant. People who are deprived of sleep are more likely to feel hungry and have increased cravings due to feelings of fatigue, tiredness and hormonal disruption.
It is not just about how much sleep a person gets but also about the quality of their sleep. Deep, restful, high quality sleep also plays an important role in hormonal health. Researchers say the length and quality of your sleep may affect your hormonal activity which is tied to your appetite.
Sleepless nights are normally followed by a day when no matter what a person eats they may not feel satisfied. This is the due to the hormones leptin and ghrelin. Ghrelin, which is produced in the stomach and pancreas, stimulates appetite and promotes fat retention, while leptin, produced in the fat cells, sends a signal to the brain when they are full.
In this study, the sleep-deprived participants felt hungrier than the group who had significant sleep, the sleep-deprived participants had higher levels of ghrelin and lower levels of leptin. Insufficient sleep can also cause the release of additional cortisol — a stress hormone — and this can also stimulate hunger.
A team at the University of Washington studied 1,088 pairs of twins and found that the genetic influence on their body mass index was twice as great in those who slept for less than seven hours compared to those who slept for nine hours a night.
There is also evidence that shorter sleep periods may increase the expression of obesity related genes or that the longer periods of sleep suppress these genes. These genes will affect how the body uses energy, how fat is stored, and the feeling of being satisfied after a meal.
In this study the researchers looked at exercise habits to determine if they could account, in part, for the findings. But they didn’t discover any differences in exercise levels or physical activity that would explain why the women who slept less weighed more. This study did not indicate that the women who slept less ate more.
So due to these varying results there are other possible factors at play such as:
• Sleeping less may cause changes in a person’s basal metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn when you rest).
• Sleeping less effects non-exercise associated thermogenesis (involuntary activity, such as fidgeting.) It may be that if you sleep less, you move around less, too, and therefore burn up fewer calories.
• Sleeping less interferes with the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates and can cause high blood glucose, leading to higher insulin levels and greater body-fat storage.
• Sleeping less decreases leptin levels, causing carbohydrate cravings.
• Sleeping less decreases human growth hormone – which regulates fat and muscle.
• Sleeping less is also associated with an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Studies also indicate that weight loss from a study group that had less them 6 hrs of sleep lost mostly muscle while the group that sleep for a longer period lost mostly fat.
So, the moral of the story is SLEEP MORE if you need to, and SLEEP WELL. Here are some great tips for a more restful night’s sleep.
Eating a diet high in nutrients and minerals particularly magnesium and calcium, will help your energy levels, fatigue, and will encourage a better night’s sleep. Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, silverbeet(chard), Brussels sprouts, broccoli, parsley, watercress and other vegetables such as celery, sweet potato and onion are all high in calcium and magnesium. Fruit containing high amounts of these minerals are oranges, dates, figs, dried apricots, avocado and bananas.
While we are Rebooting, we should have plenty of these fruits and vegetables on the plan. So enjoy a restful long sleep as part of your Reboot to a better healthier new you!