Many folks do not understand how much sleep can be a game-changer when it comes to weight loss. There are many patients I’ve seen who immediately start to lose weight once they get their sleep back on track. Why is this?
Understanding the Role of Hormones in Sleep Regulation
There are two key hormones involved with sleep regulation: leptin and ghrelin. You may have heard us discuss these hormones before. Leptin is a hormone secreted by the fat cells that decrease fat storage and hunger. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is a hormone secreted by the stomach that increases hunger and fat production. These two hormones work to balance our weight and keep it stable.
When you get a good night’s sleep, your hormones are balanced and weight loss can occur as expected. But when you don’t sleep well, your ghrelin levels rise and leptin levels decrease—thus increasing your hunger. This may cause you to get up in the middle of the night and grab a bite, which compounds the problem. Sleep loss also affects insulin production, which we know can lead to diabetes over time.
Sex hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone can also affect sleep. Many of my male and female patients have low testosterone, which impacts their sleep negatively. Some of my female patients are perimenopausal or postmenopausal and have low estrogen and progesterone as well. This is why we offer Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy at our office–a game changer for those needing supplementation.
How Sleep Contributes to Your Weight Loss Efforts
Lack of sleep not only affects your ability to lose weight but also contributes to your overall well-being. When folks don’t sleep, they are irritable, fatigued, and tend to crave the wrong foods, like carbs and sugar. Our body will always crave what it needs. Both of these food groups are related to serotonin, an important sleep hormone.
Serotonin, the “feel good” hormone, is restored when we sleep. It decreases anxiety and stress and improves our sense of peace and well-being. When you don’t sleep, you tend to feel fatigued, lazy, and less motivated to stick to your diet and exercise plan. You also may want to nap, which can throw off your sleep for the following night, compounding the problem.
10 Tips for Improving Sleep Hygiene
The concept of sleep hygiene is the steps we take to fall asleep and stay asleep. Implementing a sleep hygiene routine is important in setting yourself up for a good night’s rest. This involves doing the right things during the day to promote good sleep habits and having a room set up to support an excellent night’s sleep.
Here are some of my favorite ways to promote a healthy night’s sleep:
- Keep your room temperature on the cool side. Somewhere between 65 and 70 degrees tends to be the appropriate temperature for a good night’s sleep.
- Keep your room quiet, dark, and relaxing with good airflow.
- Avoid screen time completely. This is so important these days since screens are so activating to the mind. This includes phones, iPads, computers, and televisions. A relaxing book at night is the best way to go.
- Drink plenty of water and have some by your bedside. Avoid alcohol as it can disturb your REM sleep cycle.
- Eat well throughout the day to be satiated at bedtime. Try to avoid heavy meals close to bedtime as they can keep you up at night.
- Try to keep your routine as consistent as possible. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time, and don’t deviate too much on weekends.
- Dim your lights as bright lights can make it harder to sleep.
- Consider white noise or a fan. Your body will get used to this and recognize that sound as something related to sleep. This causes your body to secrete melatonin naturally.
- Don’t smoke and watch your caffeine consumption. Both can keep you up at night.
- Remember that your bedroom is for two things: sleep and sex. Try not to make it the room that you do everything in.
Improve Your Habits for a Good Night’s Rest
Sleep plays a crucial role in achieving your weight loss goals. Improving sleep hygiene and balancing hormones that impact weight can be immensely helpful. One way to do this is to create a better sleep environment, both physically and mentally. By taking steps to optimize our sleep, we can take a meaningful step towards reaching our desired weight.
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