Sleep and Weight Gain

Sleep and Weight Gain

Sleep.

Just saying the word makes you want to close your eyes. But never mind with the hypnosis. Chances are, you’re not sleeping right now and don’t have that option any time soon.

Perhaps sleep has taken a back seat in your life. Behind the job. The family. The Sopranos reruns on HBO GO. You can’t go to sleep anyway so hey, why not an extra episode?

The problem with neglecting your sleep is what it can potentially do to your health. Particularly, your weight.

Why?

We’ve all heard about those ambiguous studies out there somewhere that say we need 7-8 hours of sleep every night for general health. This might come as a shock, but it turns out that all this time - they were right.

The less sleep you get, the more weight you gain. The more weight you gain, the higher the incidence of complications like sleep apnea. The more complications, the harder sleep is to come by. So on and so on, you can see where the trail leads.

How do you make it stop? Or better yet, reverse it if you’re already lost in the woods?

Hormones.

Just saying the word might make you scratch your head. What do those have to do with anything? Chances are, that’s a word you only hear in reference to some sort of derogatory remark.

The world of hormones is so complicated that even the doctors who specialize in them don’t know all there is to know about them. So we’ll keep it simple, and focus on one. One very special hormone to our subject.

It’s name is Leptin. To put it simply, Leptin is the hormone responsible for weight control. There’s an intricate balance, and it varies heavily on one simple thing.

Sugar intake.

Too much refined sugar creates a chaotic Leptin cycle. Leptin is essential in keeping the fat on or off, a mechanism developed by our bodies for survival. Recently, however, with the barrage of sugar in our diet, this has changed. Sugar tells the body to overload with Leptin which causes another issue that may sound strangely familiar, and for good reason.

Leptin resistance. You can think of the word ‘resistance’ much like the word ‘tolerance’. Much like glucose resistance (and in fact the two feed each other) Leptin resistance causes the body to ignore it.

Eating sugar throughout the day, especially large quantities (the average American consumes 2.5lbs of sugar a week) causes a Leptin overload. This in turn causes a multitude of other complications, one of the most apparent of these being poor sleep habits.

During the day, you need Leptin to regulate your energy cycle. This is why a sugary drink or snack gets you excited. However, too much Leptin during the day results in a cutoff of Leptin during your sleep cycle, when you’re supposed to be building it up to make it through the night and next morning.

And that makes you hungry. Hungry sleep is bad sleep, and often results in early wake times or insomnia because the refrigerator is calling. Often, this results in more food intake. If that food is the sugar laden quick fix, at four o'clock in the morning, you kickstart the day with another Leptin overload. Another Leptin overload means even more resistance, like an alcoholic who can’t quite get the same buzz from a six pack.

Leptin resistance tricks your brain into thinking you have not had enough to eat. So when 6am rolls around, you think it’s time for another stack of waffles or maybe more Coffee Mate in your Folgers. This turns into Insulin resistance, which is the root of weight gain and Diabetes.

Run that trail backwards, and you find that it gets sketchy at around the pivot point of sugar. What you eat directly affects how you sleep.

So why do we crave sugar? For many reasons, but one important factor is what comes in our food. Or to put it more accurately, what doesn’t come in our food. Minerals and nutrients are increasingly lacking in our food supply more and more as the soil is depleted and the sugar is increased due to it’s highly addictive properties.

This leads us to the most important root issue of the topic. What came before sugar overload, when weight gain and poor sleep was not an issue? Nutrients and minerals. Both of which have been shown to decrease an appetite for sugar.

Cut the sugar. Add the nutrients. Sleep better and lose weight.


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