“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” — Irish proverb
Many of my clients come to me for help with their eating habits - and YAWN when I mention that it is important for us to look at their sleeping habits too. In today’s constantly switched-on, busy world - the last thing people want to hear is that getting enough (and good quality) sleep is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight. In fact I would say that a good night’s sleep is that miracle weight loss pill that you have been searching for - and here are a few reasons why sleep is such a powerful tool for helping you to regulate your eating habits:
1. Studies show that sleep deprivation lowers the number of calories you burn at rest
(as this study shows: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21471283). So you can eat the same amount as you usually do when you are sleep deprived and find that you put on weight.
2. Sleep deprivation also increases your body’s production of ghrelin - which is the hormone that makes us feel hungry (the study above also showed this to be the case). So you are much more likely to crave and eat more food when you have not had a good night’s sleep. In fact research shows that we crave more sugary, starchy and fatty foods when we are tired ...so find you can’t resist that biscuit tin or giant bowl of pasta - not getting enough sleep could be the reason why.
3. From a neuroscience perspective we also know that sleep deprivation stops the part of your brain called the pre-frontal cortex from functioning optimally. This part of your brain is responsible for your will-power. So if you ever feel that you “just have no will-power” to change your diet or your lifestyle, then sleep deprivation could be why.
I often say to clients that before even trying to change their food-related behaviours, that they need to start improving their sleep quality and getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. When getting enough sleep regularly also lowers their risk of conditions such depression, anxiety, cancer, Alzheimers and type II diabetes - it is not just their eating habits that benefit from taking sleep seriously.
So that miracle weight-loss pill you have been searching for ... it is much more accessible (and affordable) than you ever would have believed - your bed, your pillow and an early bedtime - could be all that your body needs!
"Sleep is the Swiss army knife of health. When sleep is deficient, there is sickness and disease. And when sleep is abundant, there is vitality and health.” - Matthew Walker