Ahh, a good night sleep. It feels so incredibly good. But Statistics Canada has found that 25% of Canadians regularly have trouble sleeping and 3.3 million people suffer insomnia. Chronically being low on sleep put the body in stress mode causing the body to produce more of the stress hormone than in people who get regular good quality sleep. Having more stress hormone in the body breeds more stress by creating an overly alert state…not helpful when you are waiting to fall asleep and your head is swirling with anxious thoughts, leading to yet less sleep!
Not getting enough sleep may cause us to age more quickly and certainly reduces our perception of our quality of life. It may put us at a higher risk of illness too. But most significantly regarding weight management, it can also affect our metabolism. One theory is that the level of growth hormone, produced during our deepest sleep goes down when we don’t sleep well. While this hormone becomes more scarce as we age, naturally, keeping as much of it around as possible does helps muscle mass. This makes sense to me when you think of how as a kid or a teen, when you’r in a growing phase, it seems we could eat as much of anything that we wanted (well almost anything!).
The last connection to make between sleep and weight management is the “leptin link”. Low sleep means less leptin (the feeling-full hormone) and more ghrelin (the feeling hungry hormone). Makes sense to me- when I’m tired I crave snacks more, and on top of food cravings, I tend to choose less healthy options because I’m feeling too lazy to peel/clean veggies and go for the chips or cookies instead.
So, when your head hits the pillow at a reasonable hour, remember you are also helping your metabolism stay young and balanced.