Are you overweight and struggle getting 8 hours sleep a night?  Obese adults are more likely to sleep less and have lower sleep quality than those with a normal BMI.  It’s an unfortunate pairing as lack of sleep has been connected with weight gain, and weight gain is a contributor to poor sleep.

One theory for the increase in weight with less sleep is the lack of sleep increases metabolic distress and behaviours which contribute to weight gain.

Why do we eat more when sleep deprived?

Sleep deprivation has been shown to cause an alteration in hormones (ghrelin and leptin) that control your appetite and fullness. The increase in these hormones may result in

  • failure to regulate how much is eaten,
  • increased snacking and
  • a preference for higher calorie and high carbohydrate foods.

Individually or in combination these actions may contribute to the development or maintenance of obesity.

Studies have observed more calories were consumed in the evening by sleep deprived individuals than those who weren’t sleep deprived (chocolate whilst watching tv perhaps?) with the increased calorie consumption being greater than the increased energy expenditure due to being awake longer.  After sleep deprivation, regions of the brain associated with motivation and reward are activated in response to food stimuli and scientists have hypothesised that restricted sleep leads to greater motivation to seek food as a reward and heightens awareness of the rewarding properties of food.  These studies have been over limited periods, so don’t account for chronic sleep deprivation.

Why does obesity affect sleep?

Obese individuals often also experience associated comorbidities such as asthma or obstructive sleep apnea.  Obesity is a major determinant of elevated C-Reactive Protein in patients with metabolic syndrome.  CRP increases when there is inflammation in the body.  Reducing inflammation and CRP could potentially be supportive of improving leptin as part of a weight reduction protocol.  Decreased inflammation is one of the outcomes I often see for clients on the Metabolic balance program.

Nutrition and sleep

Correct nutrition is important for quality sleep. Paying attention to meal-timing through strategies like 3 meals/day and time restricted eating supports better sleep outcomes. Consuming adequate high-quality protein with low-glycaemic-index and antioxidant rich foods can all contribute to better sleep quality.  I find many clients are consuming enough protein, especially at breakfast.  Does your breakfast include a serve of quality protein such as yoghurt, nuts and seeds, cheese or even chicken or ham?

How do I help clients who aren’t sleeping well?

As part of your initial consultation, we discuss your current sleep pattern.  If your sleep isn’t optimal I look at a number of factors, including your diet, what and when you are eating,  I look at sleep hygiene and other factors that may be influencing your sleep e.g. stress levels, gut function, activity levels.  I then put together a prescription including the nutrients & lifestyle changes to support your sleep.  Common nutrients I include for my sleep deprived clients include Magnesium, taurine, glycine or nutrients for stress support or to support your liver. I match the sleep supporting nutrients with all your symptoms to create your personalised prescription.   Many of my Metabolic Balance clients find their sleep improves on the program, which helps with weight loss.  You can read more about the Metabolic Balance program here.

So this gives an introduction to how important a good nights sleep is, especially if you are trying to lose weight.  If you’re struggling with your sleep, either falling asleep or staying asleep, I’d can definitely help you with that. Book an initial consultation with me and lets chat about getting your sleep back on track.