Doctorate Housewife

What my degree in IPE didn't teach me about baking, DIY, fitness, and life…

Is lack of sleep ruining your diet?


Sleep is great, but could missing out on a couple hours really have all that much impact? Well, one of the reasons we feel hungry is hormones. When ghrelin rises you start feel hungry. When leptin rises you start to feel full. Sleep, or the lack thereof can confuse the regular function of these hormones. Just one night of shortened sleep results in higher ghrelin levels, which means when you’re tired you’re going to get snacky. After a couple nights of shortened sleep not only are your ghrelin levels higher than they should be, but your leptin levels start to fall as well. That means, you are not only hungrier than you would be on a full night’s sleep, but you’re also missing out on the feeling of fullness. It’s no surprise therefore that studies have found a direct correlation between how thin you are and how many hours of sleep you get. Staying up that extra hour to watch TV or finish a project? You might be sabotaging your efforts to maintain a healthy diet. (Check out Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights by Alex Hutchinson for more)

Hormone regulation isn’t the only benefit of good sleep on diet. Rest and fasting is also important for liver function. One of the things your liver (or actually the mitochondria in your liver) does is store unused calories as glycogen and then when you need it, your liver converts the glycogen to usable glucose. However, the mitochondria in your liver can’t do the job properly if they don’t get a little rest. You see, they’re constantly dying and dividing. But mitochondria, like us, don’t multitask well. If they’re going to do a good job dividing and maintaining a healthy population of little mitochondria then they need time to give it their undivided attention. Basically that means that they need time when they’re not processing food. They need you to fast for consistent periods of time everyday. The time when you’re sleeping is perfect for that. Hitting the sack rather than having that midnight snack means healthy mitochondria, and healthy mitochondria mean healthy liver function (Check out Brain Trust by Garth Sundem for more on this and see why you might want to confine your eating to an 8 hour window.)  In studies, night time fasting resulted in decreased glucose intolerance, leptin resistance, liver pathology, inflammation, adiposity (fat storage) and increased motor coordination. Sweat science has an awesome explanatory graphic with blocks of cheese, yummm cheese =) Go over and check it out.

So voilà – a couple great reasons to skip the late night snack, turn off the tv, and get some sleep. Sometime hubby and I find that hard. There’s just too many fun things to read, watch, chat about. Plus the later you’re up the more attractive that extra cookie, bowl of ice cream, or glass of port becomes. It’s like magic. Happily routines, habits, and rituals can help… (check out the Happiness Project and Gretchen Rubin’s blog for tips on getting to bed) Chances are you’ll find yourself better rested, thinner, and happier before you know it, and all you have to do is SLEEP. Sweet dreams =)

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3 comments on “Is lack of sleep ruining your diet?

  1. kitkat1126
    June 8, 2012

    This makes complete sense to me! I know on days when I don’t get enough sleep I feel hungry/snacky all day long. I usually crave greasy unhealthy options too. I know sleep is so important, and yet it is so hard sometimes to just turn off the tv/close my book and get to bed earlier!

    • Jessi
      June 8, 2012

      For me it’s carbs and chocolate. I try to remember that what I really want is sleep, but it doesn’t always worK…

  2. Pingback: What’s your reason? – Olympic Motivation « Doctorate Housewife

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This entry was posted on June 8, 2012 by in Fitness, Healthy Living and tagged , .

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