Many of us have a weight loss goal we are struggling with. If we are sleeping less than 6 hours per night, we may be producing hormones that are sabotaging that goal. Here is a simple explanation of why.
Less than 6 hours sleep a night can make us;
- feel hungry
- crave carbohydrates such as sugar
- not feel full, even when we have eaten sufficient food
- store more of the sugar we eat, as fat
- feel tired so we don’t move and burn energy.
These things make it very hard to stay on a healthy eating plan because we are constantly feeling hungry and craving sweet food. Not only that but the food we do eat is more likely to be stored as fat, rather than used. It can make losing weight really difficult.
The hormones that cause the most problems are Leptin, Ghrelin, Insulin and Cortisol.
Levels of leptin are lower if we sleep less than 6 hours. This is a hormone that alerts the brain that it has had enough to eat. This means we keep eating long after we have had enough food.
Levels of the other three hormones Ghrelin, Insulin and Cortisol are higher if we have insufficient sleep. This affects us in the following ways;
- ghrelin stimulates appetite and makes a person feel hungry.
- Insulin is associated with weight gain due to the way it increases the efficiency of our cells to store sugar as fat.
- cortisol is often called the stress hormone and is associated with weight gain because you crave carbohydrates when stressed, according to endocrinologist Ricardo Perfetti, M.D., Ph.D., of Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Cortisol is also associated with high blood pressure and heart disease
And lastly, poor sleep can also make us feeling tired/exhausted, which means we don’t move around much and burn off excess energy as we normally would. Over time this can make us gain weight because we eat more calories than we use.
According to Harvard Medical School sleep division, studies show that poor sleep is now being seen as a major risk factor for obesity. A person who has less than 6 hours sleep is more likely to be over-weight, or obese, than someone who has 8 hours sleep a night.
The message is clear. If losing weight is one of our goals, we need to make it a priority to get 8 hours, good sleep, every night.
By Lynda Timperley BTCH, Dip psych, Cert life coaching