Are you struggling with chronic insomnia and finding yourself putting on weight? There is a connection between sleep deprivation and weight gain. Getting good sleep is one of the best things you can do for yourself: brain and body. Are you eating more junk food, with no will to stop? Do you find yourself hungrier at night? If you answered yes then it’s time to work on your stress levels and sleep. If you can commit to a healthy routine, your life will drastically improve.
Why Sleep is Crucial for Losing Weight
First and foremost, sleep affects metabolism. Studies show that even after just 1 night of sub-optimal sleep the body’s circadian rhythm is thrown off. Until we get back into a pattern our metabolism will be exhausted. Many people end up overeating at night because of insomnia. This is largely to do with the hormones leptin and ghrelin.
This is the hormone that tells our brain we’re full. If someone is constantly under stress their leptin level will decrease. The body considers insomnia stressful, and stress puts the body in a state of fight-or-flight. The body can’t tell the brain that it’s full. That’s why many people stress-eat and gain weight. Overeating seems like an easy thing to avoid; but in this case, not feeling full doesn’t have to do with will power at all.
Ghrelin stimulates the appetite – it tells your brain that you’re hungry. The more you don’t sleep the more your level of ghrelin rises, along with cytokines – inflammatory proteins in the blood that cause inflammation and insulation resistance.
– Under-functioning thyroid – usually given medicine that’s ineffective because they just need sleep
– Adrenal glands – fight or flight – produces cortisol
– The endocannabinoid system – Targeted by sleep deprivation, increases appetite
Get in a Routine to De-Stress and Sleep Sound
How do you know if you’re lacking sleep? One sign is that you consistently wake up tired. Overcoming insomnia is a challenge. The first step is to be dedicated to a regular routine. Set a bedtime and wake up time for every day, even the weekends. Try 8 hours first. If you’re still waking up tired, try 9. Switch it up until you figure out what works for you. We all have different needs when it comes to sleep.
Along with sleep, another significant aspect of a daily routine is nutrition. Take time on the weekends to prep your food for the week. Make a menu plan. Have you ever noticed that celebrities always seem in-shape? It’s because they can afford personal chefs and nutritionists. It’s easier for them to maintain their weight with someone telling them what to do. We may not have that budget, but we can have our own routine!
Wake up at the same time every day. If you’re extra stressed, 3 meals a day is important, especially breakfast. This can be difficult because we aren’t always hungry in the morning when we’re stressed. Stay committed!
Make yourself a healthy breakfast high in good protein and healthy fats:
– 4-6 oz or palm size portion of protein – can be eggs or meat
– A good fat portion is about ¼ of an avocado or a tablespoon of butter or olive oil
– If you’re vegan or vegetarian think beans and lentils with veggies
– Save whole grains for the evening
It’s vital for your brain and body to find a fitness outlet for stress. Oftentimes runners have problems with weight gain if they stop running due to an injury or other circumstance. They need to find a new cardio activity to keep their metabolism going. Taking an evening walk or yoga class are great ways to reduce stress and get your body moving every day.
When eating during the day remember to:
– Try to eat 2 cups of veggies with each meal so you get 6 throughout the day
– Get extra protein through smoothies
– For an afternoon snack of fruit or a small rice pudding dish
– For a savory snack consider a Chinese mini rice pudding
Stress relief should start right after work so that you transition into your nighttime gradually. Just like in the morning, you should be going to bed around the same time every night. Even on the weekends. Give yourself more time to sleep.
For dinner, eat whole grains or potatoes, an amount the size of half your fist. Carbs are good in the evening for stabilizing blood sugar throughout the night. Carbs at night also boost serotonin which can help with sleep. Sometimes people tend to go a little crazy with snacks in the evening after eating healthy during the day. Prevent this bad habit by keeping snack foods out of the house and not hanging out in the kitchen.
It’s important to know if you’re doing a low carb, high fat diet there can be some negative effects. A lot of extra fats at night can be bad because it takes a while for your body to digest and the fat sits in the gut, causing discomfort. The body will store the extra fat and can cause you to gain weight. Because of these possibilities, remember portion sizes for fats especially if you’re doing the keto diet.
Eat Well to Sleep Well
Did you know that we crave 50% more calories and double the amount of fat after we have a bout of insomnia? The stress on your body from the insomnia makes your body want to store more energy. That’s why if you have sleep issues the Atkins/keto/low carb diet might not be the best for you. You can gain weight on keto because you’re eating a high-fat diet and not getting full. Focus on healthy carbs from whole grains, fruit, and veggies. Eat higher amounts of good fat and protein and less carbohydrates for breakfast and lunch. Eat more whole grains, high quality carbohydrates with less fat at dinner to promote better sleep.
Foods That Help with Sleep:
– Fruit like cherries and bananas
– Dairy like yogurt, cheese, and eggs
– Grains like oats and rice, especially jasmine rice
– Chickpeas, beans, fish and nuts
What to Avoid for The Best Sleep:
– Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks
– Overly Spicy, fatty, or sugary foods
You Can Beat Insomnia and Avoid Weight Gain
When we lack sleep, our body stays stressed and it’s easier to put on weight. Create a routine for a balanced lifestyle that focuses on reducing stress and getting a healthy amount of sleep. Your brain and body need the routine to keep hormones, blood sugar and stress regulated. It takes time and dedication, but the impact on your life is worth it.
If you enjoyed this blog post – guess what? There’s a podcast dedicated to this topic – click HERE to listen to it!