You’re probably wondering why I’m writing about the causes of sleeplessness on a fitness blog. Actually, sleep and weight loss are highly correlated. While some of you may think that people who have more energy, and therefore sleep less might be thinner, you’re 100 percent wrong! Studies actually show that those who get less sleep than they should be getting a night are more prone to gaining extra lbs.!
Some studies show that those who sleep less than the recommended 7 hours a night (for healthy adults) end up gaining more weight because they are prone to overeat when sleep deprived. However, new studies show that this might not be the case. A recent study showed that participants who slept about 5 hours a night gained more weight than those who slept 7 hours, but also consumed LESS calories.
The main factor causing a difference in weight gain for those who sleep enough and those who don’t is hormonal. Let me explain…when you are sleep deprived, your body produces lower levels of leptin and increased levels of grehlin. Leptin is good for people who are looking to lose weight because it works as an appetite suppressor by sending signals to your body that you are full. Ghrelin, on the other hand, signals to your body that you are hungry. Obviously if your levels of Leptin are higher, and your ghrelin levels are lower, then it is easier for you to say no to extra food. So if you’re not getting enough sleep, you are hit with higher levels of ghrelin and lower levels leptin, which tells your body you are very hungry and do not feel full, even after you might eat.
So what can you do to get the 7 hours of sleep you need? I know a lot of people say they don’t have time to sleep for 7 hours, others say that they’re too stressed to fall asleep at night, and there are of course some people who suffer from serious insomnia. Here’s what I say to people that say they don’t have time- make some! OK, if you just had a baby and you’re getting up in the middle of the night to feed on a regular basis, I understand. But if you don’t have an infant in the house, I’m sure you can find time for those extra Zzz’s. For those of you who cannot sleep because of stress, or for no apparent reason at all, I propose you try taking the following steps to improve your sleep:
- Go to sleep at the same time every night (to get your body used to a certain sleeping schedule)
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark when you hit the sack
- Don’t do anything but sleep and have sex in your bed (read on the couch!)
- Try thinking soothing thoughts when laying down at night (a vacation on the beach, a relaxing stroll with your loved one, etc)
- Take a warm bath before going to bed
- Don’t consume caffeine after 1pm
If you still can’t sleep, try taking melatonin, which is a hormone that helps you get to sleep. Of course it’s best not to take any pills for rest, but if you are desperate, try this before taking any prescription drugs. Also, seeing a behavioral psychologist who specializes in sleep disturbances can also be extremely beneficial. Whatever you do, try to steer clear of drugs like Ambien, or Xanax, as they are highly addicting and terrible for your mind and body.
What do you do when you can’t get to sleep? Comment with some ideas!