Are you the 1 in 3 Australians who don’t get enough quality sleep?
We should all know that affected sleep patterns interfere with how we function day-to-day, and result in increased unwanted body fat.
In this article I’ll cover some of the effects of reduced sleep, and some simple techniques to help fix the problem.
Reduced sleep sets your brain up to make bad decisions. It dulls activity in the brain’s frontal lobe, which drives our decision making. It puts your brain’s reward centre on high alert, which leads you to search for something sweet or salty and impairs your ability to say NO to that piece of chocolate.
Research conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that, when people were starved of sleep, they were much more likely to increase their late night snacking, and were definitely going for something carb heavy.
A second study found that people with less than 8 hours sleep were more likely to eat bigger portion sizes.
The hormone ghrelin, which triggers the feeling of hunger, is increased when you don’t get enough sleep, causing even the strictest dieter to detour from their plan.
It gets worse. The hormone leptin, which triggers the feeling of being full, decreases dramatically, which naturally leads to over-eating.
A third and frustrating change is in the hormone cortisol. It’s your stress hormone which affects the body in many ways, shapes and forms. When you haven’t had enough sleep, it spikes and causes your body to hold onto energy for the waking moments, essentially causing you to hold onto fat. Research found that we lose 55% less fat when sleep is reduced, which can be linked to this change in particular.
Lastly there is the well-known insulin, which is a hormone needed to change sugar, starches and other foods into energy. Researchers found that reduced sleep over more than 4 days reduces your insulin sensitivity by up to 30%. Your body becomes less effective at using fat from your bloodstream as energy, leaving your body to simply store it as fat.
TIPS FOR IMPROVING SLEEP
– NO screen time for at least 45 minutes prior to bed. This means no TV, Phone, Tablet or any device that omits bright light. These devices omit ‘blue light’, which affects your body’s natural sleep patterns and cycles.
– Make your room dark. This will help your body produce the natural sleep hormone melatonin and you’ll get a better night’s sleep.
– Watch what you drink. Avoid stimulants, especially caffeine, for at least 6 hours before bed. If you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine, you may need to increase this time. Remember caffeine is also in tea. If you tend to wake in the middle of the night for a toilet break, limit the amount of fluid for a few hours before bed.
-Create a schedule and stick to it. The body will naturally click into gear with the routine you create if you stick to it. This can be TV off, shower, read with lights dimmed, and sleep.
In summary, a lack of quality sleep can have a dramatic impact on you reaching your weight loss goals, your will power to say no to that sweet tooth, and even the risk of sporting injuries.
Ensuring 7.5 hours sleep a night should be your goal. If waking later isn’t an option in your busy life, build good habits that allow you to get to bed earlier.