Having Trouble Losing Weight? Your Sleep May be To Blame


Weight gain is the result of many factors: poor dietary habits, lack if exercise, stress, and thyroid dysfunction, to name a few. But what about sleep? New research had found that the quality and quantity of sleep impacts your eating habits and metabolism, putting you at risk for weight gain.

Too Little Sleep, Too Much Snacking: A Recipe for Weight Gain

When we don't get enough sleep, our appetite increases causing us to snack and--as shown in a recent study by the University of Chicago--we tend to crave foods that are salty, calorie-rich, and high in fat--foods that can make us put on weight. Even having had a satisfying meal just 2 hours earlier did not reduce the food craving in the study participants whose sleep was restricted.

Past studies have shown that too little sleep increases the amount of gherlin, a hormone that makes you feel hungry. The University of Chicago study sheds new light on the connection between lack of sleep and weight gain. When sleep deprived, study participants consumed more calories and fat in the early evening than they did after several nights of sleeping 8.5 hours a night. The reason for the early evening snacking may be tied to our body's endocannabinoid system. That's the same system that increases appetite when a person smokes marijuana. Not only were higher endocannabinoid levels found in the sleep-deprived individuals, these levels remained elevated later in the day.

Too little sleep also slows down your metabolism which may make it harder for you to lose weight. Individuals in a 2015 study by the University of Pennsylvannia were found to have slower metabolic rates when sleep-deprived. Similarly, participants in a 2010 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine lost less fat mass when their sleep was restricted.

You Can Improve Your Sleep

There are a few simple things you can do to sleep better:

  • Make sure your bedroom temperature is not too warm as cooler environments tend to promote sleep.

  • Avoid drinking coffee or other caffeine-laden drinks in the afternoon.

  • Avoid those frequent nighttime visits to the toilet by drinking the majority of water and other drinks earlier in the day.

  • Block the blue light on gadgets you use at night. The blue light emitted from electronic devices has been shown to adversely affect the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps you fall asleep. Orange glasses and various apps for blue light filters are available.

  • Go to bed at the same time on a regular basis. Staying on a sleep schedule promotes good sleep, so don't sleep in too long on the weekend as well.

Still having trouble sleeping? We can help.

Even when you have tried various ways of promoting good sleep, sleep can still be evasive. Natural formulas are available to not only relieve occasional sleeplessness, but also promote a sense of calm and support muscle relaxation. Ask your healthcare practitioner about ways you can improve your sleep and if natural supplements are right for you.

The contents of this blog are intended for educational purposes only. The information presented here is not a substitute for proper medical attention, diagnosis, or treatment by a qualified healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider before starting or making any changes to an existing treatment plan, exercise program or dietary regimen, and before using nutritional supplements.

~ Dr. Sarah Williams ~ Concord & Nantucket, Massachusetts ~

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