Are you struggling to achieve 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each and every night? Do you find yourself constantly cranky, tired or exhibiting a short fuse when under pressure. Is it seemingly impossible to stick to a healthy diet or nutritional regime? Are you constantly failing in your bid to reduce tummy fat?
If your answer to some of the questions posed above is yes then there is probably good reason you’re unable to get rid of excess tummy fat. Chances are it has nothing to do with your application, or even your willpower. It’s possible a lack of sleep is to blame.
The less your sleep… the more you eat
After painstaking analysis of a mountain of literature (well over 50 relevant studies anyway), Alyssa Lundahl and Timothy Nelson of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln came to the conclusion that sleep is inversely correlated with food consumption. Sleep less, eat more so the researchers say.
A further study that followed 68,183 women over a 16 year period analysed sleep duration and weight fluctuation. The researchers found that individuals sleeping 5 hours or less gained significantly more weight than those sleeping 7 hours or more.
But why? A poor nights sleep can promote a number of key changes within your body, affecting your food intake.
What sort of metabolic changes?
First, two hormones that play a central role in appetite control are impaired. Ghrelin, a peptide secreted by the stomach that stimulates hunger, and leptin, which is intricately linked with appetite regulation and advising your brain when you are full.
A reduced sleep duration has been associated with reduced leptin and elevated ghrelin as well as a higher BMI (body mass index).
Accompanying this hormonal change is an emotional stress level that is significantly increased. The impact of elevated stress not only further impacts your sleep efforts, but has been linked to weight gain.
Researchers at Harvard claim there is truth to the saying ‘stress eating’. In the article ‘Why stress causes people to overeat’ researchers placed much of the blame on the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands. Cortisol, another hormone in the body, has been shown to increase appetite, as well as driving motivation to eat.
Not only that, food choices seem to be affected when under emotional or physical pressure. Comfort foods high in fat and sugar seem to be preferred to overcome a stressful situation.
Next… impulse control is also impaired. A trial completed at UC Berkely suggested following a late night or shorter sleep duration the key parts of the brain responsible for self control are inhibited. Poor decision making follows thereafter, often in the form of unhealthy food choices.
And last, but not least, people crave calories to compensate for a lack of energy after a poor nights rest.
It’s reasonably easy to see that ongoing issues with sleep patterns or chronic deprivation could have an impact on belly fat levels. If you want to know how to reduce tummy fat… get a good nights sleep!
But that is easier said than done right? How do you ensure a good nights slumber? Here are a few tips on on how to gain a better nights sleep.
Sleep and wake at the same time
Are your bed time and wake time consistent? A key to a good night is getting into a regular rhythm with your sleep. Your bodies internal clock or circadian rhythm will thank you for it. A good guide on whether you are getting enough sleep is if you can wake without need for an alarm clock blaring. Experts also believe that sticking to a morning wake-up routine would alleviate bedtime struggles.
Take a nap when you need it
A nap can be just what you need in the middle of the day to boost your energy levels, especially if you have had a tiring start to the day. But remember, keep it short. No longer than 30 odd minutes, otherwise you will find it could disrupt your nightly sleep… and you are back at square one.
Don’t get drowsy
Its easy to find yourself drowsy when you are sitting about, particularly if you have just had a big evening meal. Don’t give in to it. Get up out of your chair and go and do something active. You don’t want to be wide awake come bedtime so don’t spend your evening sleeping on the couch.
Avoid late night TV
A bunch of people turn to TV to relax in the evening. The problem… many programs can actually be stimulating not relaxing. Perhaps try relaxing with some music or a good book instead. Record your favourite program and watch it tomorrow.
Make sure the room is dark
The darker your room the better you will sleep. Hopefully your curtains are thick and block any light. If not a mask (while looking a bit silly) might help improve your sleep effectiveness.
Regular exercise is a must
Hopefully I don’t need to convince you on this one. Regular exercise is crucial as it will not only help you sleep better but it will also make you feel less sleepy throughout the day. Just don’t do it just before bedtime. One study, that admittedly was complete on patients with insomnia, found that a single exercise session that included moderate aerobic exercise reduced the time it took sufferers to fall asleep and also improved length of sleep.
How does a lack of sleep affect your weight loss efforts?