Have you ever experienced several nights where you are not getting enough sleep? Your mind is racing about all the things you have to do. Or you wake up and lay there with your eyes wide open for hours. Or perhaps you are suffering from some other form of insomnia.
How do you feel the next day? Tired, right? You find yourself drinking caffeinated beverages, buying candy or sweets or your favorite junk food to provide you with some quick energy.
This makes some kind of sense because when you are low on energy, your body looks for what will break down into sugar fast to give you energy to get through the day. But when you start making poor food choices by increasing your consumption of junk foods, sugary beverages and highly processed foods you are more likely to gain weight.
Another problem with being tired from lack of sleep it that it often causes you to feel too tired to exercise so you skip it in hopes that you will pick it back up when you are feeling more energetic. This can also cause you to gain weight because you are not burning off the extra calories you are consuming during the day.
Sounds like a vicious cycle, right?
This is not the whole story when it comes to weight gain and sleep. Not getting enough sleep impacts your metabolism, or ability to regulate energy production properly. Being sleep-deprived impacts two hormones that have an important influence on weight gain: ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin is a hormone that signals when to eat. When you don’t get enough sleep your body produces more ghrelin and you feel hunger. Leptin is the hormone that tells your body to stop eating and when you are sleep-deprived you have less of it circulating in your body.
When you are sleep-deprived, which means you are getting less than seven or eight hours of sleep each night, the combination of excess ghrelin and insufficient leptin cause you to want to eat more. This causes weight gain.
What is the solution?
Get more good quality sleep! I know this sounds like a simple solution to insomnia, which can be a challenging problem to address by yourself.