The Power of Sleep for Weight Loss

sleeping cat

Sleep has a profound effect on your body and mind. Let's start with this statement and we'll build from there: It always feels good to get a good night's sleep. You feel well rested and ready for the day, right?

I know what you're thinking...what does this have to do with healthy weight loss, right? Read on...

Sleep and Cortisol Levels

The reason why is because sleep has a strong influence on cortisol levels in your blood. Why is this important? A few reasons...

  1. Cortisol has an effect on regulating immune responses, blood sodium levels which can lead to high blood pressure and regulates connective tissue strength (believe it or not).
  2. Cortisol also releases glucose and fatty acids from the liver and reduces insulin sensitivity.
  3. Cortisol works in conjunction with insulin and glucagon to regulate energy levels.

Most people associate cortisol as a stress hormone...and it is to a certain point. When cortisol elevates in response to an acute situation like running from an axe murderer, it is beneficial and gives us the energy we need fight or flight.

The problem is when cortisol is always elevated which can be caused by a lack of sleep and other persistent stress factors. Humans have been wired to deal with acutely stressful situations but not chronic stress so continuously elevated levels of cortisol is very bad news. Here is what happens when we have consistently high levels of cortisol:

  1. Suppressed immunity
  2. Chronically elevated blood sugar levels
  3. Decreased insulin sensitivity
  4. Disturbed sleep which makes this entire situation worse
  5. Cravings leading to stress eating
  6. You guessed it...weight gain.

Just one night of missed sleep is enough to make you as insulin resistant as a type 2 diabetic.

This is why you feel so bad and groggy when you don't get enough sleep!

How to Get More Sleep

Here are some suggestions to increase the chances of getting enough sleep. Again, these are subjective to each individual:

  • Try to get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day to create a consistent sleep pattern.
  • Your bedroom should be completely dark. No light whatsoever from artificial sources.
  • Everything should be quiet. If there are noises that keep you awake, use a "white noise" maker or a fan that makes a smooth consistent sound that could help.
  • Reduce carb intake later in the day to reduce blood sugar levels as the day winds down.
  • Drink your last glass of water 2 hours before bed time so you don't have to wake up to pee at night.
  • Pets need to stay out of the bedroom.
  • Keep the night time temperature cool.

In closing, restful sleep every day is an important factor in healthy weight loss. Make sure you get your beddy-bye time in one way or another!

› Sleep