Sleep More, Weigh Less

When you’re short on sleep, it’s easy to lean on a large latte to get moving. You might be tempted to skip exercise (too tired), get takeout for dinner, and then turn in late because you’re uncomfortably full.

Yet experts agree that getting enough shut-eye is as important to health, well-being, and your weight as are diet and exercise.

Here are Surprising Reasons Why We Need To Sleep

Sleep benefits

There is a convincing link between sleep deprivation and weight gain. We frequently cross-refer patients between the weight management service and the sleep disorders unit.

Studies have found that sleeping less than six hours per day, for an adult who should normally be sleeping 7-8 hours, can produce physical changes that promote weight gain.

These changes are related to:

• The hormones ghrelin and leptin, which control appetite

• Modified brain activity, linked to higher odds of making unhealthy food choices

• Plain fatigue, which reduces the willingness to engage in physical activity

Here are ways to fix Insomnia

Sleep deprivation and changes in the Hormones

Appetite is regulated by two hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin stimulates hunger while leptin tells you when you are satiated. Lack of sleep increases ghrelin levels, making you hungry, while leptin levels drop, lessening your ability to tell when you’ve eaten enough. The combined effects result in an expanding waistline.

Sleep deprivation has also been found to affect the body’s response to insulin, which can also cause a fall in the level of leptin, further dulling your satiety internal sensors.

Sleep deprivation and snacking on high-calorie foods

Sleep deprivation can cause changes in brain activity which can promote snacking on high-calorie and high-fat foods. A tired brain has been found to respond more strongly to foods rich in fats and carbohydrates. It just feels more “shiok” to eat junk food when you’re tired.

Sugar craving

Additionally, a person who sleeps less has more hours to eat and make unhealthy food choices. Sleep-deprived people who were surrounded by delicious snacks tended to eat more of these than rested people, especially at night.

When we are tired, our brain just demands more calories than we need, and our ability to resist impulse may be blunted as well.

Sleep deprivation and a decrease in physical activity

Chronic lack of sleep has also been associated with reduced physical activity. This is because sleeping less than the normal 7-8 hours is likely to leave you feeling fatigued and less inclined to exercise. With this decrease in physical activity, you burn fewer calories which can lead to weight gain over time.

Studies have found that sleep-deprived people tend to spend more time in sedentary activities such as watching TV, and less time playing sports and being physically active.

Sleep deprivation and your dull appearance

Ever look in the mirror after a few nights of poor sleep and think your skin looks tired?

Sleep deprived

During sleep—particularly during deep, slow-wave sleep, the body produces more human growth hormone, or HGH, and goes to work repairing and refreshing cells throughout the body—including cells of the skin, muscles, and bone. Short on sleep, you risk losing out on this important rejuvenation—and it’s going to show in how you look and feel.

Sleep is critical to the health of your skin—and its youthful appearance. The boost in HGH is related to increases in the production of collagen, the protein that gives skin its elasticity and firmness and helps keep wrinkles at bay.

So how much sleep should we all be aiming for?

The National Sleep Foundation has given the following recommendations:

Age – Recommended Sleep Duration

  • New-borns (0-3 months) – 14-17 Hour
  • Infants (4-11 months) – 12-15 Hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years) – 11-14 Hours
  • Pre-schoolers (3-5 years) – 10-13 Hours
  • School-aged Children (6-13 years) – 9-11 Hours
  • Teenagers (14-17 years) – 8-10 Hours
  • Young adults and adults (18-64) – 7-9 Hours
  • Older Adults (65+) – 7-8 Hours

Tricks and Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

In today’s world, snoozing can be difficult, particularly when all your screens (computers, TVs, cell phones, tablets) lure you into staying up just a little longer.

The basics are pretty simple:

• Shut down your computer, cell phone, and TV at least an hour before you hit the sack.

• Save your bedroom for sleep and sex. Think relaxation and release, rather than work or entertainment.

• Create a bedtime ritual. It’s not the time to tackle big issues. Instead, take a warm bath, meditate, or read.

• Stick to a schedule, waking up and retiring at the same times every day, even on weekends.

• Watch what and when you eat. Avoid eating heavy meals and alcohol close to bedtime, which may cause heartburn and make it hard to fall asleep. And steer clear of soda, tea, coffee, and chocolate after 2 p.m. Caffeine can stay in your system for 5 to 6 hours.

• Turn out the lights. Darkness cues your body to release the natural sleep hormone melatonin, while light suppresses it.

Try These 5 Calming Lattes that Help Your Body to de-Stress

Remember, when you’re sleep-deprived, you’re not just facing one of these issues: you’re more than likely grappling with all of them. Think about that the next time you’re tempted to shortchange your sleep because something else seems more important.

Surprising Reasons Why We Need To Sleep?

Find out how lack of sleep can raise your risk of heart disease, diabetes, mental health problems, infertility, obesity and …

Sleep, like nutrition and physical activity, is critical to our health, and when we don’t get enough, we sacrifice more than just a good night’s sleep.

One of the vital roles of sleep is to help us solidify and consolidate memories. As we go about our day, our brains take in an incredible amount of information. Rather than being directly logged and recorded, however, these facts and experiences first need to be processed and stored; and many of these steps happen while we sleep. Overnight, bits and pieces of information are transferred from more tentative, short-term memory to stronger, long-term memory—a process called “consolidation.”

Our bodies all require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Sleep requirements vary from person to person. While adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, one-year-olds need roughly 11 to 14 hours, school-age children between 9 and 11, and teenagers between 8 and 10. During these critical periods of growth and learning, younger people need a heavy dose of slumber for optimal development and alertness.

The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

Sharper Brain

Good sleep allows your mind to regain focus and tackle those tricky mental challenges. It can also stimulate creativity. That’s because sleep plays a big part in both learning and memory.

Mood Boost

Another thing that your brain does while you sleep is processing your emotions. Your mind needs this time in order to recognize and react the right way. Chronic lack of sleep can also raise the chance of having a mood disorder. People who have insomnia, are five times more likely to develop depression, and odds of anxiety or panic disorders are even greater.

Healthier Heart

While you sleep, your blood pressure goes down, giving your heart and blood vessels a bit of a rest. The less sleep you get, the longer your blood pressure stays up during a 24-hour cycle. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, including stroke.

Short-term downtime can have long-term payoffs.

Boosted Energy Levels

Energy levels after healthy sleep are higher, and your mental awareness is more acute. Good sleep is also tied to improved athletic performance, including greater speed, agility and reflexes. Sleep loss will not deprive you of energy and time for muscle repair, lack of sleep saps your motivation, which is what gets you to the finish line. You’ll face a harder mental and physical challenge — and see slower reaction times.

Steadier Blood Sugar

During the deep, slow-wave part of your sleep cycle, the amount of glucose in your blood drops. Not enough time in this deepest stage means you don’t get that break to allow a reset — like leaving the volume turned up. Your body will have a harder time responding to your cells’ needs and blood sugar levels.

Fight Infection

Sleep is your body’s mechanism to ward off infection. When you don’t get enough, your immune system is weaker, making you more susceptible to illness. Ongoing lack of sleep changes the way your immune cells work. They may not attack as quickly, and you could get sick more often.

Weight Control

When you’re well-rested, you’re less hungry. Being sleep-deprived messes with the hormones in your brain — leptin and ghrelin — that control appetite.

With those out of balance, your resistance to the temptation of unhealthy foods goes way down. And when you’re tired, you’re less likely to want to get up and move your body. Together, it’s a recipe for putting on pounds.

Don’t Fall into these Sleep Traps!

#1: Getting just 1 hour less per night than you need doesn’t affect your daytime functioning.

While you may not feel noticeably sleepier during the day, even losing an hour of sleep can affect your ability to think properly and respond quickly.

#2: You can make up for lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on weekends.

Making up for sleep on the weekends by sleeping in and/or napping only partially erases the insufficiencies associated with not sleeping enough the previous week.

#3: Extra sleep for one night can cure all your problems with daytime fatigue.

Quality and timing of sleep are just as important as quantity when it comes to healthy rest. Some people sleep a full nine hours a night but don’t feel well-rested when they wake up because of the poor quality of sleep.

#4: You can pay back to sleep deprivation by logging into sleep debt

Unfortunately, a person can’t just accumulate sleep deprivation and then log many hours of sleep to make up for it. The best sleep habits are consistent, healthy routines that allow all of us, regardless of our age, to meet our sleep needs every night, and keep on top of life’s challenges every day.

Practising good sleep hygiene, as well as not falling into the sleep traps listed above, can reverse many cases of sleep deficiency. However, if you (or a loved one) think you may be suffering from sleep deprivation caused by a sleep disorder or another sleep condition, ask your nutritionist for a sleep diet & lifestyle consultation to achieve healthier sleep and improved quality of life.

Read our guide How to fix Insomnia for more information and tips on getting a good night’s sleep.

By Priyanshi Bhatnagar