How Did You Sleep Last Night?

Updated: Jan 1, 2021

A lot of people ask me how to boost their metabolism … so we are going to take a deep dive into everything METABOLISM during July!

First - let’s lay the groundwork with a very simplified explanation of what your metabolism actually is! It’s tempting to think of your metabolism as a “thing” – kind of like your body’s speedometer that controls the rate your body burns energy.

But your metabolism is actually a complex PROCESS where your body turns the food you eat into energy. And given you have dozens of trillions of cells, the process is rather complicated.

There is a long list of things that can affect your metabolism, including many things you can’t control – like your age, genetics and whether you are male or female, and more.

BUT... the good news is there are a LOT of things you CAN do to rev up (or slow down) your metabolism, based on your lifestyle choices.

And you guessed it, SLEEP falls into that category!

Have you ever had a bad night of sleep and felt hungry the entire next day? This is because your body’s hormonal system takes a hit when it doesn’t get enough rest.

Scientists believe this is linked to a disruption in two hormones, called ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin signals to make you feel hungry, and leptin signals when you feel full. I like to think of it as my body’s shut-off valve.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body can release MORE of the HUNGER hormone and LESS of the FEELING-FULL hormone … See how you can end up eating more but still never feel fully satisfied?

PLUS … you might have LESS WILLPOWER!

Not getting enough rest can also activate a part of your brain that is especially sensitive to seeing or smelling food, which can make you want to eat it even more! All of this just lays the groundwork for taking in more calories than your body needs.

This leads me to the second part of how not getting enough sleep affects your metabolism, and that has to do with the BURNING OFF of FUEL.

Have you ever had a few bad nights of sleep in a row, and noticed that the scale goes up? It’s a real “thing” … researchers found that when adults were limited to 5 hours of sleep a night over 5 nights, they actually gained weight! They put on an average of 1.8 pounds (.8 kilograms). And another study found that getting only 5 hours of sleep at night cut the rate of fat loss by more than 50%!

The worst thing for sleep is stressing about not sleeping. But there are some things you can experiment with to set yourself up for a better night of Zzz’s:

  1. Get some sunshine in the morning to reinforce your natural circadian rhythm.

  2. Also, sneak in some exercise during the day! Among many other things, this can help with your body’s stress hormones AND make you more physically tired, so your body wants to sleep at night! (Bonus: 1 & 2 are easy to combine!)

  3. If naps get in the way of your sleep routine, try to avoid them, especially late in the day. A short cat nap after lunch is fine, if you’re able to take one!

  4. Try limiting coffee or other caffeinated beverages after 2 p.m. as the caffeine might be impacting your sleep.

OK, so those are things you can do during the day to help improve your sleep. Here are some things to think about closer to bedtime ...

  1. Avoid heavy meals for a few hours before bed … and stay away from alcohol (a stimulant) since that can contribute to restless sleep.

  2. Dim the lights in your home an hour or two before bedtime, to signal your body it’s time to go to bed.

  3. Stay away from any devices that emit blue light … like your phone and TV.

  4. Make sure your bedroom is sleep-friendly. It should be dark, not too hot, and quiet. You might also want to try adding some white noise – there are lots of great apps you can try!

  5. This last one might be a toughie, but if you’re used to sleeping with your dog or cat on the bed, try changing that up for a few nights and see if that helps. (I did this when my kids were toddlers…My desperate need for sleep eventually beat down my guilt.)

If none of those things seem to work for you, it’s worth bringing up to your doctor at your next visit … because your sleep affects so much beyond your metabolism!

Sweet dreams!


REFERENCES:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3619301/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22357722

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/healthy-sleep-tips

https://news.uchicago.edu/story/sleep-loss-limits-fat-loss-study-finds

P.S.

If you want to learn more about metabolism, check out my email series and mini course

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