Lack of Sleep & Weight Gain

Lack of Sleep & Weight Gain

Sleep less, gain more

Could lack of sleep be the reason you’re packing on those extra pounds? Making a habit of pushing your drained body through the day is a surefire way to keep your weight reaching upwards. We want to add numbers to our sleep time and no one wants to see them add up on the bathroom scale. Am I right?

Think about our daily habits when we try to get through the days utterly exhausted. The first thing we do is reach for that cup of coffee to get us up and moving. After a long day at work, we find ourselves too tired to hit the gym, skipping exercise. As our tired bodies try to play catch up, we crave energy in the form of food, and a quick an easy fix is to order take out. With a belly full of not-great-for-us-food, getting to sleep may be a long way into the night, especially if we went for that last cup of coffee at the end of day to keep us going. After finally finding ourselves in the good graces of the Sandman, it’s not long before our alarm jolts us out of bed to repeat the sleepless cycle all over again.

Brain food

If we want to make healthy diet and exercise choices throughout the day, we need to start with a good night’s sleep. Sleep is fuel for the brain and when we don’t get enough sleep, our brains function on limited power. Like your car when the fuel runs low, there are a few warning signs to pay attention to before you’re stranded on the side of the road.  

When we’re sleep deprived, we tend to make poor decisions and our impulse control centers are not in tip top functioning order. A sleepy brain craves junk food, gives into late night snacking, has cravings for high carb snacks for energy and wants to eat bigger portions. The reward centers in our drowsy brains rev up and we crave what feels good, like that second piece of cake.

Hormone levels

Hormones are used to maintain and regulate our bodies’ behavioral activities, such as digestion, metabolism, respiration, stress, growth and development, reproduction, mood and, of course, sleep. Without adequate sleep the hormones ghrelin, leptin and cortisol can be thrown off balance and can lead to overeating, gifting us a few extra pounds.

  • Ghrelin – Tells our brain it’s time to eat. When we’re sleep deprived, our bodies produce more ghrelin, which causes us to crave more (unhealthy) food.
  • Leptin – Tells our brain to stop eating. When we’re sleep deprived, our leptin levels plummet, increasing food cravings.
  • Cortisol – The stress hormone signals our body to conserve energy. If we’re lacking sleep, our cortisol levels spike causing our body to store calories (and fat) for future energy.

Sleep right, feel right

It’s a no-brainer that healthy food choices and regular exercise help us keep our weight at balanced levels. Not getting the proper amount of sleep, however, can easily put us at a disadvantage when trying to maintain healthy choices. But after a good night’s sleep, we wake up with our energy tank on full, ready to make the best decisions for ourselves and our health.

Sleep is how we end each day and how we prepare our bodies to face the next. Prioritizing sleep in our overall health plan has the power to do the following:

  • Stop late night snacking – We can’t eat if we’re sleeping.
  • Help burn more calories – We have the energy to hit the gym when we wake up.
  • Help with portion control – We don’t need to store as much energy in the form of food because we recharged our batteries with sleep.
  • Keeps brain focused – We don’t need to reach for that extra cup of coffee to stay awake.
  • Keeps hormones level – Our body is ready to regulate itself after a refreshing and rebooting nights’ rest.

Ever wonder if some areas of the country are packing on the pounds more than other areas? Watch the video to find out which cities are the most fit and which cities are, well, fat. I wonder if they’re getting enough sleep.

Let me know what you think of the list!