Does sleep deprivation cause weight gain?

sleep deprivation

Late nights and broken sleep can lead to sleep deprivation and increase the risk of life-threatening diseases

While you sleep your body repairs muscles, regulates your metabolism and restores hormone levels. Experts say we need around seven to nine hours sleep a night, any less than this and you could be suffering from the effects of sleep deprivation.

The odd late night isn’t going to cause long-term effects to our health – everything in moderation is the key, even late nights. However, the problem starts when you have more late nights than early or your sleep is interrupted.

Studies have linked prolonged sleep deprivation to an increased risk of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and depression.

Even short-term sleep deprivation creates problems

For example, if you lack sleep you’re more likely to:

  • Have a short fuse or struggle to control your emotional response in difficult situations
  • Reach for stimulants such as coffee or so-called energy drinks to pep you up
  • Be involved in a workplace or car accident due to slower reaction times, impaired judgement, or worse – you can micro-sleep
  • Have a poor memory
  • Be easily distracted and struggle making decisions
  • Get sick more often

So, is sleep deprivation related to weight gain?

People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to crave high sugar or high fat, deep-fried foods. If the body isn’t generating enough energy from sleep it’ll try to get it from food and, as we know, too much high calorie food will cause weight gain.

Are you regularly getting your seven to nine hours a night? If not, it’s time to find a solution.

5 tips for a good night’s sleep

  1. Turn off screens – Television, laptops, phones etc. should be switched off half hour before bedtime. If you like to read before bed, the good old paperback is the best option
  2. Avoid stimulants like tea or coffee close to bedtime – Instead try herbal tea such as chamomile tea as this may help you to feel sleepy
  3. Check your mattress – A saggy mattress can cause sleep issues. Sure, it’s not cheap to replace a mattress but what price can you put on your long-term health
  4. Exercise each day – Studies show that people who exercise regularly have fewer problems sleeping
  5. Stick to a schedule – Have a consistent bedtime each night

Another contributor to sleep deprivation is interrupted sleep

If waking during the night is a constant pattern and the cause is not obvious, you might want to visit a doctor or naturopath to see if they can find the cause.

When you wake during the night don’t start writing mental to-do lists and thinking about the next day. Instead try this technique:

  • Start by taking a few long, deep breaths.
  • Then tense your toes, hold for a few seconds and then relax them.
  • Move to the calf muscles, tense, hold, relax.
  • Continue to move up the body – thighs, glutes, tummy, chest.
  • Then move to the fingers, forearms, biceps, shoulders, neck, cheeks, eyes, forehead.
  • Then take a few more long, deep breaths. Hopefully this will relax you back to sleep.

3 tips to prevent waking during the night

  1. Ensure your bedroom is cool – If your room is hot and stuffy you’ll be more likely to wake up feeling uncomfortable during the night
  2. Draw the blinds – You’ll be less likely to wake up with the birds. Having a dark room will help you sleep longer
  3. Switch off your phone – Turn your mobile phone to do-not-disturb mode or better still don’t bring it into the bedroom

Another benefit of a good night’s sleep

Getting a regular good night’s sleep will also improve your appearance. Yes, there is truth in the saying “I need my beauty sleep.” The body produces collagen while we sleep which is essential for repairing the skin.

Want more? Read my 5 things that can hinder weight loss

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