Bottoms Up!

Women's health, fitness and nutrition.


Better Sleep = Less Fat

by Libby Babet 28. February 2012 18:10

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Being tired really isn’t fun. Neither is packing on the KGs. Being productive and alert, as well as feeling positive and motivated, all while showing off a trim tummy, on the other hand, feels fabulous!

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to neglect good quality sleep? And how quickly you remember the vital importance of those Z’s once you are deprived of them and experience the consequences?

We all know (from personal experience most likely!) that not getting enough time under the covers will have a negative impact on your mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as impacting your physical health. But did you know that being sleep deprived can also upset your hormone balance and encourage your body to store more fat. 

Look at this from another angle (the ‘glass half full’ angle), and it makes sense that getting good quality sleep will promote emotional stability, internal health and yes, will assist in fat loss too!

So, “just how do I make sure I get better sleep?” you ask, as you read this article from your neon-bright laptop (or iPhone) screen while tucked up in bed, with the TV on in the background and your too-bright bedroom lamp lighting up the room like a 7/11 store... you know where we’re going with this, right?

Better pre-bed rituals before you hit the sack will help you get those ever-elusive Z’s, so make sure you set the mood! Here’s how...

  • Avoid caffeine and other stimulants after noon.
  • Consuming alcohol in the evening (hmmm it seems there is no good time to consume alcohol, as it’s not like you can have it for breakfast), may make you feel sleepy initially but will completely ruin any chance you have of getting a deep sleep
  • Just as routine works in other areas of your life - like exercise – it’s the same with your sleep pat-terns, so attempt to start and end your days at roughly the same time each day.
  • Keep exercising! Exercise is fantastic for promoting a good night’s sleep, in fact it is the number one recommended treatment for insomnia.
  • Promote a relaxing sleep environment in terms of lighting, sounds, smells and even a comfortable and supportive bed. This tells your mind it’s time to prepare for sleep and helps you nod off and stay there!
  • Shut off your fancy-schmancy technology (yep, iPhones too) at least 30 minutes before bedtime, but ideally an hour or so before hitting the sack. Those bright screens and all the things you do with them provide far too much stimulation for your brain and you’ll end up going to bed wired.
  • Read a novel, or do some meditation before sleep. Both of these activities help you to focus your mind and shut off all those whirling thoughts hanging on from the day that was. This means a much better snooze.


Yeah, yeah, that’s all well and good, you say but WHAT ABOUT THE FAT LOSS? Ok, Ok, here we go. 

Now that you’re curled up in bed, reading this article on paper, to the light of a dimmed, soothing night light, let’s get down to business!  

When we talk about sleep, we need to consider its affect on our hormones, especially the regulation of those that control our appetites and help us to burn fat effectively. Sleep deprivation can increase your appetite and reduce your energy levels by increasing your body’s production of the hormone Ghrelin (renamed Gremlin). Because you feel low on energy, your bod makes you crave food... and not the good kind either! Instead of reaching for an apple, you’ll crave high fat, high calorie, high carb foods to help you get over that energy slump. 

Leptin, the hormone that tells you ‘stop’ and ‘I’m full’ also decreases if you are not getting enough sleep. Ouch, now you’re not only eating bad foods, you’re eating a LOT of them too. To add insult to injury, this imbalance actually means you burn calories at a slower rate as well.


Need more convincing evidence?

Lack of sleep can also affect your cortisol levels. When you’re tired, levels of this little stress hormone, which is secreted by the adrenal gland, absolutely sky rocket. This can lead to weight gain on your tummy, because your bod thinks, “I’m stressed! Famine must be coming! I’d better store some calories in case I need ‘em later!” 

So all that slogging it out at the gym is going to be for nada if you’re not getting enough quality sleep. Obviously this is not a big help when your goal is a slim summer bod! 

Of course, good nutrition and consistent exercise are your number one weapons when it comes to weight loss but hopefully it’s now clear to you that without adequate, good quality sleep, losing those last few kilos might prove tough. So include a solid 7 hours (ideally 8) of sleep in your fab bod regime to help support your goals and you can’t go wrong. 

And hey, if all this information is just a little too much to take in... we suggest you sleep on it ;)

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