Everyone’s weight loss journey is different. However, there are certain needs of human biology that are a constant, and sleep is one of them. The body heals, cleanses, and rejuvenates itself during a daily seven to nine hours of sleep. That sleep time is also essential to regulating appetite and food cravings. Without it, you’re hungrier, less satisfied with your food, and prone to cave to your cravings.
Sleep and Appetite
Hormones are your body’s chemical communicators. When your stomach starts to empty, it triggers the release of the sleep hormone ghrelin. However, when you haven’t gotten enough sleep, the body releases higher levels of ghrelin, which means you’re hungrier even if your energy needs stay the same.
The other half of appetite control revolves around satiety, and sleep comes into play here too. During sleep deprivation, that’s anytime you get less than seven hours of sleep, the body reduces leptin, a satiety hormone that makes you feel full. When you put more hunger with less satiety, you’ve created the perfect equation for overeating.
Curbing the Cravings with a Better Night’s Rest
The sleep-related appetite changes don’t stop at hunger; they extend to food cravings. Food causes a pleasure response in the brain. Without enough sleep, high-fat foods and those packed with sugar cause increased pleasure in the brain’s reward center.
Studies have found that sleep-deprived people will choose snack foods with 50 percent more calories and twice the fat in comparison to when they’ve gotten a full eight hours of sleep. Eating healthy can already be a challenge, and adequate sleep is the kind of help that will fuel better food decisions.
Building Healthier Sleep Habits
Sleep can and should be your health foundation. Better sleep starts with habits and behaviors that cater to the body’s sleep needs.
- Eat for Sleep: The body uses recognizable patterns of behavior to regular the release of sleep hormones. Eat meals at around the same times and at consistent intervals throughout the day. You can also help by avoiding foods like caffeine and heavy, fatty foods within three or four hours of bedtime.
- The Set Up: Everything about your bedroom should support good sleep. Cool temperatures, a quiet atmosphere, and complete darkness are simple ways to help your body relax. Your mattress can be a big factor as well. It should support your weight and sleep style. If you share a bed with a partner, a mattress that actively reduces motion transference can help you both sleep better.
- Schedule and Routine: Set a bedtime and keep it. Consistency helps the body recognize when to release sleep hormones. Add a bedtime routine to help you transition from awake and active to calm and relaxed. Routines train your brain to not only release sleep hormones but to appropriately respond to them.
- Turn It Off and Dim It Down: Technology is great, but it can get in the way of sleep. The blue spectrum like that from electronic screens can suppress sleep hormones. Turn off your screens two to three hours before bed and try to bring down light levels in the evening. The better you can follow the natural progression of sunlight, the better off you’ll be.
Successful weight loss needs adequate sleep. Not only will it help you in your weight loss journey, but it fully supports an active lifestyle and balanced diet. Habit changes may be in order, but once in place, better habits create the building blocks for more energy, better food choices, and achieving your goals.
Source: Guest Blogger, Ellie Porter, Managing Editor of SleepHelp.org
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