If you are a night owl, an early bird or a combination of both, there is one thing we all have in common: You probably aren’t getting enough sleep. While many of us aspire to get those recommended eight hours of sleep, we often try and get by with five or six. Let’s face it; sometimes life gets in the way. We might get absorbed watching a favourite show (Bachelorette anyone?), get lost reading a good book, or feel excited about going to work the next day (lucky you!) and as it happens, we end up not getting as much sleep as we should.
One of the challenges of sleep is that we view it as unproductive time; many of us look at sleep time as hours we could use for something more pressing. The reality is that sleep is as important for your health as what you choose to eat and the exercise you do. At The Goodnight Co., we view sleep as an investment in our health. It's as much a part of your well being as going to the gym and eating properly - so why don't we treat it like that? Let's start by taking a look at how sleep directly affects your weight - and how you can use it to your advantage, and snooze your way to your most healthy state.
The first and most important reality we must face is that poor sleep actually changes your fat cells. Think about the last time you had a bad night of sleep. When your body is sleep deprived, it suffers from "metabolic grogginess." The term was coined by University of Chicago researchers who analyzed what happened after just four days of poor sleep-something that commonly happens during a busy week. One late night at work leads to two late nights at home, and next thing you know, you're half way through the working week with not a quality wink of sleep in sight.
Within just four days of sleep deprivation, your body's ability to properly use insulin (the master storage hormone) becomes completely disrupted. In fact, the University of Chicago researchers found that insulin sensitivity dropped by more than 30 percent. When your insulin is functioning well, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from your blood stream and prevent storage. When you become more insulin resistant, fats (lipids) circulate in your blood and pump out more insulin. Eventually this excess insulin ends up storing fat in all the wrong places, such as tissues like your liver. And this is exactly how you become overweight and suffer from diseases like diabetes. Oh dear.
If you've ever found yourself more prone to be reaching for that last slice of Cheesecake when under the influence of sleepiness, there's a reason for that too (no, you're not just insatiable). Hunger is controlled by two hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Elevated ghrelin levels means stimulated appetite. Low leptin levels mean your brain doesn’t get the message you are full; you don’t feel satisfied after you eat. In other words, you need to control leptin and ghrelin to successfully lose weight, but sleep deprivation makes that kinda hard! Research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinoloy and Metabolism found that sleeping less than six hours triggers the area of your brain that increases your need for food while also depressing leptin and stimulating ghrelin. Drats.
Have trouble sleeping in general? Both falling asleep, and getting good quality sleep is often easier said than done. To alleviate the nightly struggle, make an effort to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day to ultimately create a an efficient sleep ritual, which you can learn all about here!