Sleep and Weight Loss: A Wake Up Call For Fitish Woman

Sleep and Weight Loss: A Wake Up Call For Fitish Woman














There’ll be plenty of time for sleeping when you’re dead. We’ve all heard that one haven’t we?

For those of us who believe ‘life is for living’ we’re so busy being busy we just don’t give sleep the priority it deserves. Yet, sleep is one of the foundation pillars of good health and without adequate sleep we can find ourselves struggling to lose or maintain weight. Recently, after regaining a few kilos I thought I had shed for good and finding myself feeling hungry all the time despite increased water intake and eating adequate protein, I did a stocktake of my new healthy lifestyle choices and even though my diet has been cleaned up immeasurably through quitting sugar and focussing on mindful eating of real food, and I’m making an effort to move my body in some way daily either by walking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day or attending Opa-cize Greek Dance Fitness Classes or the gym, I realised I have been paying no attention to my sleep patterns.

Bad habits are easy to form but sometimes very hard to break. Going to bed late has been a daily habit so entrenched in my daily routine for so long that now I simply don’t recognise signs of my body telling me it’s time to sleep.

You know how it goes. When the children were young, you’d put the kids to bed then chat with friends on Facebook, surf the net and catch up with housework chores. As the kids grew older, late nights became ‘me time’. You’d ignore those first signs of tiredness and yawns screaming for sleep by having a late night coffee or tea and plough on regardless of how you’re feeling because there’s so much to do and so little time.

As Fitish Woman, I had sworn I would become CEO of my health and maintain my weight loss for long term health benefits, so I had to find out what was causing this constant feeling of hunger. Many of us believe that hunger is controlled by willpower and that we need to be more disciplined in controlling our willpower in order to control our hunger but according to Scientists that’s not correct. Scientists are telling us hunger is controlled by two hormones called Leptin and Ghrelin, working in harmony with another hormone, Cortisol.

Leptin is a hormone that is produced in your fat cells. The less Leptin you produce, the more your stomach feels empty, and you get the hungry ‘feed me’ message. The more Ghrelin you produce, the more you stimulate hunger while also reducing the amount of calories you burn, affecting your metabolism, and increasing the amount fat you store. So we need to control Leptin and Ghrelin to successfully lose weight, but sleep deprivation makes that nearly impossible. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinoloy and Metabolism found 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.

Scientists tell us inadequate sleep creates an internal battle that makes it nearly impossible to lose weight. When you don’t sleep enough, Cortisol, the stress hormone that is frequently associated with fat gain, rises.  Cortisol also activates reward centres in your brain that make you want food. At the same time, the lack of sleep causes your body to produce more Ghrelin. A combination of high Ghrelin and Cortisol shut down the areas of your brain that leave you feeling satisfied after a meal, meaning you feel hungry all the time, even straight after eating a big meal.

I’m not proud to say I’m living proof of these scientific findings. Lack of sleep also makes it harder to make decisions concerning what is best for you to eat. A study published in Nature Communications found that just one night of sleep deprivation was enough to impair activity in your frontal lobe, which controls complex decision-making. They say that sleep deprivation is similar to being drunk. You just don’t have the mental clarity to make good decisions in regards to the foods you eat or want to avoid. The more tired you are from lack of sleep, the more active your Amygdala, the reward region of your brain becomes. It’s the mind controlling Amygdala that makes you crave high-calorie foods. This is the very reason why sleep deprivation destroys all diets.

And if all that wasn’t bad enough news, research published in Psychoneuroendocrinology found that sleep deprivation makes you select bigger portion sizes of all foods, making it more likely that you’ll gain weight.

Not enough sleep means you’re always feeling hungry, reaching for bigger portions, and craving every type of food that is bad for you and you don’t even have the proper brain functioning to stop yourself and say ‘NO!’

Lack of sleep also affects your ability to exercise and is the arch enemy of muscle. Scientists have found that inadequate sleep decreases your body’s ability to make muscle, causing muscle loss and can even lead to a high incidence of injuries. A lack of sleep makes it harder for your body to recover from exercise by slowing down the production of Growth Hormone which is your natural source of anti-aging and fat burning which also helps in recovery. When you don’t sleep enough, you get less slow wave sleep which is the time when the most Growth Hormone is released. It’s a vicious cycle because poor sleep also increases the stress hormone Cortisol which slows down the production of Growth Hormone and the already reduced production of Growth Hormone due to lack of slow wave sleep is reduced further by more Cortisol being produced in your body.

If you’re anything like me, and you don’t particularly enjoy exercise, not prioritising sleep will make exercise very hard to endure let alone enjoy.

So there you have it, the connection between sleep and weight gain is hard to ignore. Research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that women who are sleep deprived are a third more likely to gain 33 pounds over the next 16 years than those who receive just seven hours of sleep per night. And with all of the connections to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, and cognitive failure, the need to sleep goes far beyond just looking better and seeing results from your diet and exercise efforts.

What is adequate sleep? As a general rule, you should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep every night, and if you do have one night of poor sleep don’t turn it into a daily habit.  Call it a BGO (Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious) but getting enough sleep could be the one best health decision that makes all the difference to how you feel and look.

Imagine catching up on some sleep in the comfortable surroundings of Capri by Fraser, Brisbane?

That’s just one of the prizes up for grabs at the Hight Tea of Hope hosted by Fitish Woman on July 30, supporting Save the Box, gynaecological cancer research.

Book your tickets online here

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