A catchier title would be LOSE WEIGHT WHILE YOU SLEEP, but you know that’s not my style. The point is that the sleep you get on a regular basis has a very real impact on your health and your weight, so it could be worth paying some attention, to the quality as well as the quantity.
The quantity needed could vary from person to person, but is generally thought to be between 7 and 8 hours, preferably uninterrupted. Research on sleep deprivation is conducted on those who get 6 hours or less. A clear link has been observed between inadequate sleep and excess weight, and not necessarily from obstructive sleep apnoea.
With regard to food, there are two aspects for us to consider: the effect of poor sleep on your eating and health, and the effect your health and what you eat has on your sleep. You see we can have a vicious circle here. The good news is that the circle can be broken down in a number of ways.
The effect of poor sleep on your eating and health
- Research shows that even one night of restricted sleep creates insulin resistance the following day. Long-term sleep loss is likely to impair insulin function, which does tend to develop into more serious conditions. (1,2)
- Insulin is often referred to as the fat-storage hormone, and when it’s not functioning well, you gain weight more easily and find it tougher to lose. It’s thought that this makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight if you’re not sleeping enough. (3)
- Inadequate sleep has been shown to affect the appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin, creating an increase in appetite. (4)
- Lack of sleep increases levels of cortisol, leading to an increase in inflammatory markers, which are indicators of body stress. Cortisol becomes elevated during the evenings, when, of course, it’s especially unhelpful for a good nights’ sleep. (5)