Some things just don’t make sense. Like that Jedward were ever a thing, or that a fidget spinner topped so many people’s Christmas lists last year.
Or the fact that doing nothing and lying down can actually help you to lose weight.
Sometimes the world can be a funny ol’ place.
But really, it’s true – getting enough sleep each night can actually help you to ditch unwanted pounds. All you have to do is lie back and relax!
Here’s how it works…
Sleep creates some happy hormones
You may or may not be aware that sleep produce serotonin, also known as “the happy hormone”. This helps us feel nice and relaxed the following morning instead of underslept and anxious, reaching for those chocolate croissants for an instant sugar fix.
Sleep also helps the body to produce high levels of leptin. Known as “the obesity hormone”, this handy fella reduces your appetite. Get enough leptin in your system and with it goes those pesky cravings for middle-of-the-night snacks or a humongous fry-up at breakfast. Without enough, your appetite can increase…you may also feel colder, craving high-calorie or “comfort foods” to get you through the day.
So for those struggling with weight issues, leptin is a good friend to have on your side!
Oh, and there is another “fat hormone” called ghrelin. It works in the opposite way to leptin, in that it actually makes you hungrier. It can strike hard, and fast. Suddenly that great mood dissolves into “h-anger” and you need to eat RIGHT NOW before you jump down your poor unsuspecting partner’s throat for whatever he/she just said to annoy you.
If this sounds familiar, and if you wake up in the night with your stomach growling in hungry protest, your ghrelin levels might be running low.
By developing a regular pattern of enough sleep you can keep those hormones steady. Just make sure you don’t get too much; more than 10 hours will leave you feeling over-tired and lethargic, again craving salty and fatty foods. 7–9 hours is recommended for adults.
Sleep gives us more energy
High blood sugar levels can impede your ability to sleep, and vice versa. When we’re sleep deprived, we reject up to 30% of our body’s insulin (which usually converts glucose into energy). The fat and sugar that we haven’t been able to burn off stay put in our bloodstream before moving on over to our tissue. Hello, bumpy bits.
Plus, this spike in our blood sugar levels makes it hard to get to sleep; and so, the next day, we eat more sugar or drink more caffeine to keep us going. Cue another bad sleep…and that waistline expanding by the day. This process is called “metabolic grogginess”…and it’s every bit as tiresome as it sounds.
On the other hand, when we let insulin do its job, our fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from our bloodstream. (Yay!) Also, getting enough sleep means we have more natural energy to face whatever personal or work-related challenges that life can throw at us. We don’t need sugar as a crutch, making it much easier for us to lose weight when we choose to.
Sleep helps us make smart decisions
If you sleep badly, your brain’s cognitive function suffers as a result. This poor judgement leads to you making decisions that a well-rested brain would normally steer clear of. You unleash your road rage at the traffic lights, honking at whoever’s holding it up. You agree to do a project that you know will leave you more stressed, simply because you weren’t listening properly in the meeting. And you choose a greasy burger over a salad at lunch to cheer you up.
Whatever willpower you may have had until now flies out the window with a bad night’s sleep.
This is your tired, tricky mind at work. It lures you into taking the easy option, into making the unhealthy decision because it doesn’t have the energy to offer up a wiser alternative. However, with enough sleep, your mind is on your side. It will have the capacity to choose what’s right, what’s smart – and your health, your relationships and your career will reap the benefits.
Of course, just telling your mind to rest isn’t easy. And too often sleep refuses to come when we need it to. If you’re struggling to sleep, check out some of the tips from The Sleep Advisor. By taking a few simple measures, your sleep patterns can improve…and your willpower, too!
Healthy Sleep = Healthy Life
Aside from the science-y reasons, it just makes sense to get more sleep! Being well-rested makes you a happier, more relaxed person who has a stronger immune system and is therefore less vulnerable to picking up every cold and bug in the area. When you feel happy and healthy, you’re more likely to make the decisions which keep you that way.
If you’re trying to lose weight, there are plenty of ways in which you can adjust your lifestyle. And topping the list should be an overhaul of any poor sleep habits you might’ve picked up over the years.
So get a great night’s sleep, tonight and every night, and you’ll start waking up to the best version of “you” that you can be!