Sosan Hua, RD, CDE
We all know the importance of sleep in affecting our physical and emotional health. Let’s explore how disrupting your body clock and not getting sleep can have an impact on your appetite and by default, your waistline too.
Disrupting your circadian rhythm makes you more likely to overeat and crave unhealthy snacks. Your levels of ghrelin increase, which brings cravings for sweet and carbohydrate-rich foods in particular. At the same time, levels of leptin can also go down. This is bad news as our bodies rely on leptin to send signals to say that we’re full. The combination means that you’re more likely to overeat the wrong types of foods. If you find yourself constantly fighting the urge to snack on these kinds of foods, it could be due to your poor sleep habits that disrupt your circadian rhythm.
And just to make things that little bit more counterproductive, your body also finds it harder to burn calories when you’re not getting enough sleep at the right times. Those extra calories you’re taking in are pretty much destined to be stored as fat, especially if you’re not doing much exercise.
Do you notice that when you are not getting enough sleep, you are feeling hungrier or crave more carbs or sweets? If so, you know now the hormones behind the scenes, ghrelin and leptin are influencing your food choices and dictating your appetite. If your goal is fat loss, then creating a healthy sleep regimen is imperative to support you in your health and weight loss journey.
Here are some tips to help you improve your sleep quantity and quality:
- Avoid caffeine after 12 noon or 2pm depending on your sleep routine.
- Avoid alcohol – many people think alcohol can help them unwind and drift off at night, but it actually affects the quality of their sleep.
- Avoid heavy meals or eat late in the evening.
- Stay hydrated during the day – drink the majority of your liquid during the day so you reduce the chance of waking up in the middle of the night to urinate.
- Optimize your bedroom environment – a dim light, keeping the room cool, and noise control.
- Turn off any electronic or mobile device at least 30 minutes prior to sleep. For some people, they may need 1 hour to settle in.
- Stretch and do deep breathing to calm your body on your bed.
- Practice deep breathing during the day, so you calm your body for a restful sleep.
- Get moving – start with walking for 30 minutes during the day, it will help you to sleep better at night.
- Set regular sleep pattern – sleep and wake up at the same time daily even on weekends.
Remember weight loss is not just about eating low glycemic impact eating, taking supplements, and moving our body, your sleep matters too. How you start your day is equally as important as how you end your day. Have a deep, restful sleep tonight.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
2 Spiegel K, Tasali E, Penev P, Van Cauter E. Brief communication: Sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite. Ann Intern Med. 2004 Dec 7;141(11):846-50. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-141-11-200412070-00008. PMID: 15583226.