Can Poor Sleep Lead to Weight Gain?
Did you know that you can go about three minutes without air, about four days without water, and only about nine days without sleep?
Why is sleep so essential? For something that takes up a third of our life, sleep still holds a lot of mysteries. But we do know that many biological repair processes and basic maintenance of body functions take place during sleep. We make antibodies, clear infections, get rid of cellular waste, rest and restore our brain, and boost our immune system.
Sleep & Metabolism
How does poor sleep contribute to obesity, diabetes, and metabolic issues? It's known that lack of sleep raises the stress hormone cortisol and increases glucose production, which raises your blood sugar.
Studies have shown that markers of increased insulin resistance appear after just one night of partial sleep deprivation. Symptoms of prediabetes can arise with as little as five days of sleep disturbances. Blood pressure also increases with sleep deprivation.
When you are sleep deprived, the hunger hormone ghrelin increases while leptin decreases, which leads to increased hunger and cravings.
Other studies show that when you are sleep deprived, the hunger hormone ghrelin increases while leptin decreases, which leads to increased hunger and cravings. You are more apt to overeat, especially on unhealthy foods, to consume more calories, and to experience emotional or stress eating when you are sleep deprived.
How to improve sleep
There are a number of proven ways to get a better night's sleep. These largely involve setting up a relaxing sleep routine and creating a better sleep environment. Some of these are done right before bed, but some are done during the day in order to set you up for a night of better sleep.
Establish a sleep routine
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time, seven days a week, to establish a circadian rhythm.
- Have a relaxing pre-bed ritual that readies you for sleep. This can be as simple as brushing your teeth and washing your face, dimming the lights; or can include breathing exercises.
- A warm bath before bed can help some people relax and sleep more soundly.
- Jot worries, "to-do" lists, or other repetitive thoughts on a pad beside the bed to get them out of your head.
- Avoid any provoking or upsetting activities close to bedtime, which can include scary books or movies, arguments, work emails, etc.
- Consider taking a magnesium supplement before bed to help relax muscles and prevent leg cramps.
Watch what you eat and drink
- Stop caffeine by 2 pm, or by noon, if caffeine sensitive - remember it's not just coffee but tea, chocolate, and some energy drinks.
- Stop alcohol at least three hours before bedtime - it disrupts sleep quality.
- Stop eating at least three hours before bedtime.
- Drink water earlier in the day, and avoid drinking it and other fluids too close to bedtime.
Create a positive sleep environment
- Have a cool, dark room with a comfortable bed, pillows, and bed coverings.
- If noise and light disrupt your sleep, use earplugs or a white noise machine; wear eyeshades or invest in blackout curtains.
- Blue light from device screens is a known sleep disruptor. Try to stop all screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
If you are trying to lose weight, getting a good night's sleep is one of the best things you can do for it. It's also essential for good physical and mental health!