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The impact of poor sleep on weight loss

what can you do about it?

“I’m fasting daily, tracking my macros, carb cycling, and exercising regularly. But I’m still not losing weight! What am I doing wrong?!” 

So many identify with this. Keep reading and you might find the solution to your obstacle.

Dialing in your nutrition and fine tuning your workout routine are essential to improving your health. But if you’re there and still not seeing results, it may be time to dig a little deeper. SLEEP- or lack thereof- plays a major role in our metabolism, immune system, and hormonal balance. It’s so important for both physical and mental health and preventing disease. There are many other factors that play into successful weight loss and maintenance and SLEEP is a big one!   According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35 percent of people are sleep deprived.

A little about the science of sleep

We know that losing weight is all about controlling INSULIN.  Inadequate sleep actually hinders your body’s ability to properly use insulin and the process becomes completely disrupted. In fact, the University of Chicago researchers found that with as few as four days of sleep deprivation,  insulin sensitivity dropped by more than 30 percent.

When your insulin is functioning well, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from your bloodstream and prevent storage. When you become more insulin resistant, fats (lipids) circulate in your blood and pump out more insulin. Eventually this excess insulin ends up storing fat in all the wrong places, such as tissues like your liver. This leads to weight gain and often the debilitating disease, diabetes. 

You also notice when you’re sleep deprived you feel hungrier and often crave carbohydrates. This is not because you don’t have enough will power. It’s science! 

HUNGER is controlled by two hormones: LEPTIN and GHRELIN. You need adequate amounts of both to lose weight, and research shows that sleeping less than six hours triggers the area of your brain that increases your need for food while also depressing leptin and stimulating ghrelin. 

And INSULIN, LEPTIN, and GHRELIN are not the only hormones disrupted by poor sleeping patterns. Lack of sleep increases CORTISOL. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is another hormone that must be controlled to lose weight. High levels of CORTISOL activate reward centers in your brain that make you want food. At the same time, the loss of sleep causes your body to produce more GHRELIN, the hunger hormone. This combination of high hormone levels shuts down the areas of your brain that leave you feeling satisfied after a meal, meaning you feel HUNGRY all the time—even if you just ate a big meal.

The bottom line is lack of sleep is a recipe for disaster when it comes to weight loss. It’s not that you don’t have the willpower to make good choices and control your portions. It’s that your body is working against you!

So how much sleep should we be getting in a night? While there’s no hard number, a good rule of thumb is  seven and nine hours of sleep per night. We also want to ensure that one poor night of sleep isn’t followed up with more. It might not seem like much, but it could make all the difference and mean more than any other health decision you make.

Let’s talk about quality of sleep! Quality of sleep is just as important to all these hormonal processes as lack of sleep.  We are all so busy, running a million different directions, that even when we try to settle down for the night, our brains are still working on overload. Here are a few simple tried-and-true tips you can DO to improve your quality of sleep.

  1. Find your sweet spot. Just like your nutrition needs, your sleep needs are specific to you. Identify the amount you need (usually 7-9 hours), and aim to get that much each night. 
  2. Cut off caffeine. Some can enjoy a cup of coffee after dinner and still sleep like a baby. Others are up all night if they have a glass of iced tea after two pm. Establish your caffeine cut off point and make it a hard line! For those with serious sleep issues, consider eliminating caffeine altogether for a period of time and see if your sleep improves.
  3. Get into a rhythm. Until the invention of the lightbulb, we rose with the sun and settled down with the moon. It may sound a little out there, but the rhythm of ‘day’ and ‘night’ sets into motion many processes in our bodies that regulate repair, digestion, and hormone production. If your schedule is flexible, try synching up with Mother Nature. This means staying up later in the summer and turning in earlier in the winter. If this isn’t possible for you, try to create your own rhythm of wake and sleep around the same time everyday. Getting at least some sunlight exposure each day can be helpful too. 
  4. Wind down. Find a few simple practices that clear your mind and relax your body before you lay your head on the pillow. Try meditating (Headspace app), doing some light yoga or stretching, taking a warm bath, making a cup of herbal tea, or reading a good book to get you in that bedtime mood.
  5. Create a sleep-friendly space. Save your bed for sleep (and intimacy) only. Avoid watching TV or scrolling through social media in bed. This way your brain associates your bedroom with deep, restful sleep rather than these other activities. Wear an eye mask if you’re sensitive to light or turn on a fan (or white noise app) if sounds disturb you. 
  6. Turn down the thermostat. I like to keep my room super chilly, 65-68 degrees. We are able to get a deeper sleep when the atmosphere is cooler than normal.
  7. Unplug. When I am ready to crawl in for the night, I am not scrolling on my phone. I am making sure my phone is on silent and not within arm’s reach. Temptation removed.

Here are 3 life changing products that help me achieve the PERFECT night’s sleep. 

 

  1. Calmful Sleep. If you don’t have this ALL NATURAL magnesium product, you’re missing out. Magnesium deficiency affects melatonin, the sleep regulating hormone. Supplementing with magnesium promotes balance, reduces stress and anxiety, and relaxes the nervous system and muscles- all of which mean better sleep. Shop Calmful Sleep here.
  2. ChilPad. I should be a spokeswoman for the ChiliPad I love it so much! It keeps me cool and comfortable all night. I’m telling you, this product will change your life! We achieve a deeper sleep with a cooler body temperature and our muscles recover more efficiently. For me, it is absolutely worth the investment. Use the code Amanda15- for 15% the cooler pad or Amanda25 – for 25% off the Chili pad here.
  3. Weighted blanket. These blankets are the adult version of being swaddled and tucked in. They help calm, improve anxiety, and affect mood. I may have been a bit skeptical at first, but I am a believer! Would not be without one now!

 

SLEEP is TOO IMPORTANT to cut corners. If you think your sleep (quantity or quality) may be affecting your weight loss or health goals, or if you just want the best sleep possible, give these tips a try!  SWEET DREAMS!

 

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