Are Weight Gain and Sleeping Issues Related?
Sleep deprivation can cause many problems, such as irritability or impaired cognition. The most common issue is weight gain. Sleep deprivation affects four primary hormones related to weight gain.
Four Hormones Related to Weight Gain
- Ghrelin, the “hunger hormone,” tells your brain when it’s hungry and should eat.
- Leptin, the “satiety hormone,” tells your brain when it’s full.
- Cortisol is a stress hormone that is activated when you wake up. It conserves energy as fat reserves to use as fuel during the day.
- Insulin is a peptide hormone that regulates your body’s ability to process food into energy.
Sleep deprivation increases ghrelin and reduces leptin, so your brain thinks it’s hungrier more often, and is less able to recognize when it’s full. Sleep deprivation also affects your body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates. As a result, you experience higher blood sugar levels, and increased insulin and cortisol. When insulin resistance grows, your body stores fat and sugars, and you gain weight.
Researchers discovered that people who slept only 5.5 hours had 60% less muscle mass than those who slept 8.5 hours, with muscle mass 40% higher. Sleep has a powerful effect on muscle recovery and growth.
Not getting enough sleep makes your body catabolic (instead of metabolic) and delays muscle growth. If you use a high-intensity training style such as lifting heavy weights, your body produces less protein than it otherwise would.
6 Ways to Better Sleep
Here are some ideas to help improve your ability to fall and remain asleep.
- Turn everything off, including your phone. Avoid using electronics at least 30 minutes before bed. Electronics emit a type of light that can disrupt the natural rhythm of your body. Sleep experts suggest reducing electronics use in general.
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. No TV, no phone.
- Go to sleep earlier to get a full night’s sleep. Set an alarm to wake up at the same time every morning. Be consistent with your sleep pattern.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is the best way to get your body ready to sleep. It also helps you fall asleep easier.
- Drink a cup of herbal tea, such as chamomile, to relax before bed. Keep it limited if you wake up during the night to use the bathroom.
- Avoid caffeine after lunch. Caffeine is a stimulant that causes your body to think it should be awake.
Sleep helps your muscles grow by releasing protein-building amino acids, growth hormones that support muscle repair, and several healing substances that keep your muscles healthy.