Ghrelin. It’s a moonlight adventurer’s nightmare creature.
Ghrelin is a hormone that tells your brain that you are hungry, and at the same time, suppresses the hormone that makes you feel full (leptin). That’s a normal process, but here’s the kick – If you sleep less than 7 or 8 hours a night, your ghrelin levels tend to increase past the natural amount. The less you sleep, the bigger this monster becomes! Not only that, but another hormone that regulates your appetite, cortisol, is known to weaken and slow down in production when we don’t sleep enough.
Grehlin: A real shithead when they're tired
Aside from hormones, less sleep or broken sleep messes with your body’s ability to correctly metabolize the carbs you’ve had that day, resulting in high levels of blood sugar. And when you have more blood sugar than you should have naturally, it jacks up your insulin levels. That stores excess body fat and puts you at a higher risk for the development of diabetes, among other things.
Diabetes (which equips a sword and shield at level 3).
It doesn’t take a study to know that humans are snoozing less and less as modern time goes on. I guess there’s just more to do, eh? Well, there’s a bigger link than you would think between Americans getting less sleep than their friends in other countries and weighing more than the folks in those countries.
Besides this increase in ghrelin, weakening of leptin and cortisol, and excessive blood sugar levels, it’s just common sense – Less sleep equals less physical productivity, less concentration, more stress, and unhappiness. All of these can affect our weight during the day and lead us to make less healthy decisions. Or less decisions overall, really.
This can become a hell of a double-edged sword, because chances are that if you’re overweight, you have sleeping problems. Being obese can give you sleep apnea (which causes you to randomly start and stop breathing at night), giving you broken, restless sleep. Of course, if you have a large frame, sleeping without waking up with back, neck, or shoulder pain is often difficult. Worrying about your sleep or being depressed about your appearance can easily carry over into your subconscious and give you insomnia.
It’s a looping catastrophe, right? Well, a bright side is that better health and better sleep go hand and hand, it's just that not a lot of people make that connection. Having trouble sleeping? Work towards a better weight. Having trouble with your weight? Get some sleep. Eventually, both sides comfort each other and make you function better as a human.
Seriously! Just get some damned rest, already. Zzzz...
Sleeping to help with weight, who would’ve thunk it?
Here are some more tips on getting better sleep to help regulate your appetite and weight:
Try to cool down from your exercise and begin your resting process at least 2-3 hours before your bedtime
Avoid cigarettes, caffeine, and alcohol starting by late afternoon (but avoid them all completely if you really want to excel here)
Use your bed mainly for sleeping only. Try not to use it as a constant place to watch tv, hang out with friends, work on a laptop, etc. Keeping your bed as just a -bed- will kick it into your brain that, "Hey, this thing is for sleeping, and it’s time to sleep. Nothing else, dummy."
Make up a chill ritual that you can do every night such as reading a few chapters from a book before bed or taking a Mariah Carey-style diva bubble bath, etc. Whatever works to get you comfortable
Generally, darkness and quiet will help you have a wonderful, flowing sleep. Try for as much of both as you can, or if you're the type that can't sleep without certain sounds, there are machines and apps for that
Changes in sleep schedules can start showing results in not just happiness, drive, and daily function, but also better weight management in as little as a week. Give it a try, you night owl weirdo!