Health & fitness

Lack of Sleep: A Weighty Issue

22 February, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Lack of Sleep: A Weighty Issue

Not getting enough sleep can do more than just make you feel sluggish the next day--it can actually sabotage your weight-loss goals. When you feel tired or low on energy, you typically reach for starchy comfort foods to give you that quick burst of energy you need to make it through your hectic day. There is a scientific reason you crave those starchy foods when your energy levels start to plummet. These foods are predominantly made up of simple carbohydrates, which means they are broken down quickly and the glucose is absorbed into your bloodstream, providing you that quick burst of energy. The problem is that these foods are oftentimes loaded with fat and sugar.

The Science behind the Sleep-Weight Connection

Additionally, if you're not getting enough sleep or the sleep you are getting is not quality sleep, you are going to disrupt your metabolism. This is all related to two nightly hormones called ghrelin and leptin, both which affect your appetite. These two hormones work in tandem to control how hungry and how full you feel. Your gastrointestinal tract produces ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite. Your fat cells produce leptin, which is a hormone that tells your brain that you are full.The proper production of these hormones can be thrown off-balance when you get fewer than seven hours of sleep per night. As a result, your leptin levels drop and your ghrelin levels increase. This will increase your appetite.

What to Do

Aim to get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, be sure to get into a nighttime routine that signals your body that it's time for sleep. Find ways to relax your body and mind. Avoid electronic devices--turn off the television, resist the temptation to check your email or various social networking websites and put down your cell phone. The light emitted from these devices can inhibit slumber. Perform relaxing activities, such as reading, journaling, drinking warm herbal tea or taking a hot bath.

Beat the Sneezes

There are more than 240 allergens, some rare and others very common. If you’re a sneezer due to pollen: close your car’s windows while driving, rather switch on the internal fan (drawing in air from the outside), and avoid being outdoors between 5am and 10 am when pollen counts are at their highest; stick to holidays in areas with low pollen counts, such as the seaside and stay away from freshly cut grass.