Is not sleeping making me fat?

There have been numerous studies showing that the quality of your sleep can affect your weight.

There are two important hormones that move with your circadian rhythm and control the body’s signals of when to eat and when not to eat.  If in balance, you’ll be hungry at the right time when your stomach is empty and feel full when you’ve eaten sufficient food.

The two hormones I’m talking about are Leptin and Grehlin.

Leptin is the hormone that regulates your appetite and calorie burning.  It tells your brain to stop eating and start burning calories for energy.  Leptin is intimately connected to your thyroid gland.  Your thyroid gland is involved in storage and usage of energy and is easily upset by stress and exhaustion.

It makes sense that during sleep, your leptin levels increase so that hunger does not keep you awake.  If you’re sleep deprived, leptin levels will not increase in the same way they would if you were asleep.

In fact the opposite happens.  Ghrelin, the hormone that tells you to eat, starts to take over.  It also controls when you should stop burning calories and  start storing fat.

However, if you’re not sleeping Ghrelin increases and tells your body you need to eat and start storing energy instead of burning energy.  You’ll probably find yourself craving sweets and carbohydrates, and generally eating more heavy stodgy foods.

Research says that those who sleep for five hours or less each night are 15% more likely to become overweight than those who get 7 hours.

The time you get up could also be an important factor in weight loss.  One study says that people who are exposed to bright light in the mornings had a lower Body Mass Index than those who got their daylight later in the day – regardless of the number of calories consumed.

Even in the dark winter months, try to get up early and move.

Sun salutations are ideal to get your internal fires going and let your body know it’s time to get moving and start burning calories. This sort of practice will also help to move waste out before you put more in!

The old saying “early to bed, early to rise” really is worth paying attention to.   Early morning sunlight exposure will help to reduce the levels of melatonin (the sleep hormone) in our bodies, and to regulate our circadian rhythms.  With the light serotonin, the happy hormone, will rise and make it easier for you to be enthusiastic about your day. When the sun goes down in the evening, melatonin levels will start to rise again preparing the body for sleep.

 

Creating a regular rhythm will help your body stay in balance.  Sweet dreams!