Is this non-nutrition reason causing your slow weight loss?
Have you ever been there where you seem to be doing everything completely right with your diet? You are eating to the levels you should, being careful and not cheated once? You’ve even upped your fitness regime to try and help. Yet not matter how hard you try, the scales just won’t seem to budge?
What if I were to tell you that some of the reasons may have nothing to do with what you are feeding your body?
In fact, there are key things that you are doing to your body that has nothing to do with your nutrition. And no matter how “good” you are being with your diet and fitness regime, unless these things are under control, then the body can and will continue to hold onto excess fat stores.
One of these things is a lack of sleep!
How a lack of sleep can impact weight loss:
Sleep is an incredibly restorative process that is important for the health of the entire body. Within each of us we have what is known as our circadian rhythm or clock. This clock allows all processes in the body to be aligned with the day/night cycle. However, as we now live in much more of a 24-hour society, these cycles can often be disturbed.
More access to screens at night, eating well after it’s dark and going to bed later all affect our circadian rhythm. All of this can then have an impact on our sleep length and duration as well as the quality of sleep. Studies have shown that those who sleep less than 6 hours per night are at a higher risk of weight gain (1)
There are several proposed mechanisms for this happening. One of those is the impact that it has on hunger hormones. It has been shown that ghrelin (a hormone promoting hunger) can increase with sleep restriction, whereas the hormone leptin (which signals to make you feel full) decreases (2) Together this can significantly increase hunger and food intake during the day.
A lack of sleep has also been shown to decrease insulin sensitivity which results in impaired glucose tolerance (3)
Another hormone to be impacted with a lack of sleep quality and duration is cortisol. The secretion of cortisol is closely controlled by the circadian rhythm. Generally, cortisol levels will be characterised by an early morning maximum, declining levels throughout the day, a period of minimal levels in the evening and first part of the evening. Shorter sleep cycles can cause cortisol levels to significantly spike at night (4). A rise in cortisol levels can increase both your hunger and particularly cravings for sweet foods because it raises your insulin levels.
How to Improve your sleep:
If you think that it is indeed your sleep that is stopping your health or weight loss goals then try these steps below:
- Try and go to bed at the same time every night- sounds simple but if you can get into a proper sleep pattern then it will allow your circadian rhythm to balance out properly.
- Turn off all technology an hour before bed (or at least use blue blockers)- The blue light from our screens can directly impact our circadian rhythm. This impacts our body to secrete sleep hormones such as melatonin.
- Sleep in a dark room- If it is too light then your body will still think it is day time. Again your internal clock will kick into gear and keep you awake.
- Have a cold shower before bed- Not the most appealing thing but being too hot can affect you being able to fall asleep and have a good quality sleep as well.
- Try and not eat a couple of hour before bed- Eating before bed means you are asking some of your body’s systems to stay “on” such as your digestive system. Try having your last meal or snack a couple of hours before bed.
- Don’t have any coffee after 2pm- If you are really struggling to get to sleep at night then it could be to do with the caffeine. Experiment with the time, some people need to not have any caffeine after 12pm.
Are tyou experiencing a weight loss plateau or struggling to lose any weight? Have you tried anything to get it moving again? Comment below with what you have tried and if you have looked at your sleep patterns or not at all?