“When your sleep becomes short, you will gain weight.” When I heard those words while listening to the audio book “Why We Sleep” from Matthew Walker PhD, it was yet another reason that validated for me why sleep is so important in order to feel good, inside and out.

Here is what I discovered.

There are two hormones in our body that control appetite.

  • Leptin signals a sense of feeling full. When the level of leptin circulating in the body is high, our appetite is blunted and we don’t feel like eating.
  • Ghrelin triggers a strong sensation of hunger. When the level of ghrelin increases, so does our desire to eat.

An imbalance to either of these hormones can trigger increased eating that result in increased body weight.

Over the past 30 years, Dr. Eve Van Cauter (a colleague of Dr. Mathew Walker) did some research on the link between sleep and appetite. Here is a snapshot that really spoke to me from the book.

Dr. Van Cauter investigated whether one week of short sleep was enough to disrupt levels of either leptin or ghrelin or both. She discovered that individuals were far more ravenous when sleeping four to five hours a night than they were sleeping the full recommended 7 to 9 hours. And, it only took until the second day of short sleep for participants to feel hungrier and have their appetite increase. She found that inadequate sleep decreased the concentration of leptin (I’m full feeling) and increased the levels of ghrelin (I’m still hungry feeling). The result was that participants didn’t feel satisfied by food when they were short on sleep.

Trying to simplify in my mind what I had just read: when people sleep less, they eat more. Therefore, if you are trying to lose weight, you are fighting a losing battle if you don’t get adequate sleep. WOW!!!! No wonder it’s so hard for so many people to achieve success with losing weight.

Getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep will restore a system of impulse control within your brain, putting the appropriate brakes on potentially excessive eating. It will help you control your body weight.

When we sleep less, it’s not just that we eat more, it’s the choice of food we make. The cravings for sweets, carbohydrate rich foods and salty snacks all increased by 30 to 40% when sleep was reduced by several hours each night.

Lack of sleep not only impacts our food choices. The less an individual sleeps, the less energy he or she feels they have, and the more sedentary and less willing to exercise they are. Inadequate sleep is the perfect recipe for weight gain: greater calorie intake, lower calorie expenditure.

In summary: short sleep will increase hunger and appetite, compromise impulse control within the brain, increase food consumption , decrease feelings of food satisfaction after eating and prevent effective weight loss when dieting.

For more information on how you can use EFT to help improve the quality of your sleep, please read my post, How to Use EFT Tapping with the Intention to Improve Your Sleep.

Until next time, sleep tight!

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