Sleep is like nutrition for the brain. Insufficient sleep impacts your feelings of hunger and of feeling full. Have you ever had days where you feel hungry constantly throughout the day? Next time you have a day like this, think about how much sleep you got the night before.
There are 2 hormones, Ghrelin and Leptin, that significantly affect how hungry we feel. Ghrelin signals to your brain that it’s time to eat. When you’re sleep deprived, your body makes more ghrelin, causing us to eat much more than we might if we’d had a good night's sleep. Leptin, on the other hand, cues your brain to put the fork down. When you’re not getting enough sleep, leptin levels plummet, signalling your brain to eat more food. Put the two together and it’s no wonder sleep deprivation leads to overeating.
Research shows we need to be consistently getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night. If you’re trying to lose fat, make sleep a priority. If you’re consistently having trouble sleeping, try the following:
Keep track of the amount of sleep you are getting each night. Record comments and feelings to see if there’s a pattern around sleep routines that will help you improve your sleep habits.
Turn off/put down all devices (including TV) at least an hour before bedtime and choose a relaxing activity such as a bath, reading, listening to calming music.
Cut caffeine after lunchtime.
Don’t eat a high protein meal within 2 hours of going to bed and try to avoid eating after 8pm.
Avoid eating the bulk of your calories at your evening meal.
Cut sugar at night time.
Avoid very low carb diets.
Take a good quality magnesium supplement before bedtime.
Keep electronic devices such as phones and tablets out of the bedroom.
Keep your bedroom an uncluttered, comfortable space, and as dark as possible.
Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
Keep pen and paper by your bed to note down things to remember in the morning.
Lindseth, G,. et al. Nutritional Effects on Sleep. Western Journal of Nursing Research. August 2011.
Taheri S, Lin L, Austin D, Young T, Mignot E, Short Sleep Duration is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index.