Reading time: 2 minutesPublished: March 25, 2018
A poor night's sleep might well be the reason you can't shed weight.
It’s been well documented for the past decade that sleep deprivation can have a major negative impact on metabolism and weight loss; as a soon to be father, the likelihood of us a new parents getting any sleep within the next few months is seeming less and less. So in my efforts to know more about the impact of sleepless nights, I did some research and I came across something very interesting.
I recently stumbled upon a scientific article titled ‘The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Hormones and Metabolism’ (Van Cauter et al., 2005), which stated that categorically we have decreased the amount of deep sleep we are getting as a result of habitual behaviour. In the case studies present within this article, over a 24 hour period the lights, sounds, external stimuli and constant access to entertainment had reduced our sleep patterns by a significant amount since the 1950s. Now this article was published over 10 years ago... Imagine the impact of social media, smartphones, live streaming and other forms of entertainment that never existed back in 2005; we live in a hyper- stimulated world where sleep has become an afterthought. So what is this doing to our health?
Well, the study concluded that the associated reduction in total sleep time resulted in an increase in a hormone called cortisol. This hormone as it’s most basic function is commonly known as the stress hormone; which, in the article noted that... ‘elevations of evening cortisol levels in chronic sleep loss are likely to promote the development of insulin resistance, a risk factor for obesity and diabetes’ (Van Cauter et al., 2005). This increase in cortisol supported the main application of this article, being that; sleep is not just for the mind, but the rest of the body as well.
People who subject themselves to total sleep deprivation for prolonged periods of time increase their food intake markedly. Recent studies have shown that the levels of hormones that regulate appetite are profoundly influenced by sleep duration. Sleep loss is associated with an increase in appetite that is excessive in relation to the caloric demands of extended wakefulness. Put simply, if you are awake for longer periods of time, your body automatically wants to sustain your wakefulness by increasing your appetite beyond the need of your body, and this is where metabolism comes in. Because you’re not sleeping long enough, your body’s metabolism increase glucose tolerance and negatively promotes an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and weight gain.
So what’s the ultimate time to sleep then, how can we all increase our rest nights sleep and decrease the distractions that are keeping us up? Well, the current school of thought is 7 hours a night as an average to be considered a ‘healthy night's sleep’; this physiologically allows your body to reach a stable level of rest to invoke hormones that actively help towards weight loss. As for those distractions, turning your phone off and limiting watching videos at least an hour before bed will reduce brain stimulation and ultimately, lead to your getting a better night's sleep. After all, we now know that a poor night's sleep might well be the reason you can't shed weight.
Written by: Matthew