How are sleep and weight gain related?
As we are all aware, if we are overweight or obese, our quality of sleep is often compromised as well as our health. Maybe something we didn’t know that one of the keys to helping shed those pounds is sleeping in!
So what is considered enough sleep? For adults, anywhere between 7 and 9 hours per night and a little more for teenagers and more again for smaller children. Unfortunately, studies show that around 40% of people are getting less than 6 hours sleep. That’s a problem on several levels but especially weight loss.
In simple medical terms, the more sleep you get the less your genes have to do with how much you weigh, the less sleep you get, the more your genes have to do with how much you weigh. So those who are getting less than 7 hours sleep not only seem to put weight on – but keep it on.
So what have statistics and research uncovered? For those who get enough sleep, over nine hours, genetic factors contributed to 32% of weight variation. For those who got less, the effect was a staggering 70% of weight variation.
Early research is indicating the genetic pathways associated with sleep are also triggers for feelings of hunger, satiety, storage of fat and metabolism. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to hormones increasing the hunger desire. It makes sense doesn’t it? You’re awake for longer so eventually you will get hungry again after your previous meal.
How do I get more sleep???
People often have extensive commitments these days and a lot of people tend to say they are “time poor”. In the end we all have the same amount of time and some people are managing to get a good nights’ sleep so perhaps you need to try to prioritise your sleeping routine for at least a week and see if it makes any difference to your wellbeing.
So how does a good sleep begin?
- Make your bedroom the sleep room, don’t take work in there
- Shut down all screens an hour before bedtime. Maybe put your radio on or listen to a podcast that interests you while you complete the bed time routine.
- Minimise alcohol intake and avoid overeating or heavy dinners.
- No caffeine after 2pm.
- Try to start the bedtime routine at a reasonable time whereby you can read a book, take a bath or do some mediation. If you go straight to bed expecting to be asleep in 5 minutes that may be a little optimistic.