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5 Tips for Improving Sleep and the Relationship to Weight

5 Tips for Improving Sleep and the Relationship to Weight

Understanding the relationship between sleep and someone’s body weight is still being explored. However, here are a few connections that have been noticed.

Increased Appetite

One factor that research studies have looked at is the connection between sleep and someone's appetite. Poor sleep impacts your hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Not getting enough sleep increases the hormone ghrelin, which increases your appetite. It also decreases the production of leptin, which leaves you feeling less satisfied after a meal. Both of these factors lead to increased eating during the day.

Higher Blood Sugars Are Stored As Fat

Poor sleep has been shown to cause metabolic dysregulation. This basically means that if you get poor sleep, insulin sensitivity, storage of glucose (sugars), and fat metabolism (how fats are stored or used by the body) are all affected. If your body isn’t as sensitive to insulin, this causes higher blood sugars in the body that gets stored as fat. 

Higher Cortisol (Stress) Levels

Increased cortisol levels, a stress hormone. Higher levels of cortisol causes increased appetite and cravings for sugar and higher fat/greasy foods, salty foods. It also leads to insulin resistance, which was explained above. When you’re not as sensitive to insulin, this can lead to glucose (blood sugar) getting stored as fat. If you're struggling with food cravings, check out this blog post for additional solutions.

More Fatigue Lowers Motivation To Be Active

Poor sleep leads to feeling tired during the day. This adds to feelings of not having the energy to exercise during the day. And being active with exercise or general physical activity helps you sleep better! This is a vicious cycle to avoid.

5 Tips for Improving Sleep

  1. Having a consistent going to sleep and wake up times creates a consistent routine. Consistency helps train your brain to begin to get sleepy around a certain time of the day. Having a consistent schedule, at least for your sleep, is also helpful when there are other events happening in your life that are creating more stress.   
  2. Turn off electronic devices 1-2 hours before going to sleep. The blue light from cell phones, iPads or tablets, and TVs tricks your brain into staying more awake by not making melatonin naturally. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that helps us feel drowsy to fall asleep. 
  3. The Sleep Foundation recommends keeping your bedroom temperature between 60-67 degrees for a more comfortable night of sleep. Constantly waking up overly hot or too cold will not help you sleep soundly at night.
  4. Try to make your room as dark as possible. Blackout curtains can be really helpful for sleep, and keeping your home cooler during the summer. 
  5. Utilize a sound machine if you live on a busy street or have a noisy neighborhood. 

Getting good sleep plays such an important role in your journey for a healthier life. It helps give you more energy in the day to be active, and supports your body in a variety of ways to maintain a healthy weight and even lose weight if that is your current goal.

Katie Ott, MS, RD

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