Good sleep is a vital factor that contributes to good health, which is the key to weight control. In fact, it’s one of the three top ones. Proper exercise and nutrition being the other two, good sleep balances with these to promote well-being. No one can realistically expect to have a good life without good health, or have good health without getting good sleep.
There is a lot of focus placed on getting enough exercise and eating well. Even with just these two of the three vital components of good health, most people seem to be overwhelmed and unable to fit them into their lifestyles. It is a struggle to find the time and to actually make the effort to fit these most basic and essential components into our lives. Often, we compromise with a little of both, or with gaining an achievement in just one area.
Good sleep, sadly, is not as well recognized as physical activity or proper diet. Most modern city dwellers would love to get more sleep, but simply cannot imagine how they could possibly do it. They are too busy trying to cope with the high expectations that modern live imposes. Good sleep is often therefore ignored although it is actually the most important of the three because of how it ties in with both exercise and diet. We must learn the importance of good sleep and learn how to cope with the challenges that modern life poses in our effort to get good sleep and to regain and maintain good health.
GOOD SLEEP REGULATES WEIGHT
Good sleep regulates weight, and poor sleep – whether it’s not enough sleep or poor quality sleep – makes us gain weight. Sleeping too much, of course, can also lead to weight gain. The point here is that we need to get good sleep – the right amount and the right quality. People who sleep well tend to weigh significantly less than people who sleep poorly.
Here’s how that works.
MOTIVATION AND HORMONES
There have been many studies conducted over the past several decades on the relationship between sleep and weight. These studies show that there is a strong correlation between poor sleep and obesity in both children and adults. They consistently show that we all face an increased risk of gaining too much weight when we don’t get good sleep. Children are at higher risk than adults, and women at higher risk than men, but we are all at risk.
Lack of motivation and hormonal imbalance are the top factors, among others, that result from poor sleep. People who don’t sleep enough or well will obviously have less energy to engage in physical activity than those who do get good sleep. This lack of motivation to exercise results in abnormal weight gain. Without quality sleep, we cannot hope to achieve a proper, healthy weight. The connection between sleep and the second vital health factors, exercise, is clear. Good sleep is essential for us to exercise properly for good health.
People who don’t get quality sleep will also tend to have hormonal imbalances. Sleep is a most basic component of our bodies’ regenerative cycle. Sleep keeps us going, keeps our bodies functioning properly. Without proper sleep, our bodies go out of whack – the systems go out of control.
Hormones are chemicals that are present everywhere in our bodies. They send messages to different parts, organizing various functions and regulating different complex processes. These processes relate to such things as metabolism, growth, immunity, fertility, and behavior, just to name a few of these vital functions. When hormones cannot do their work well, the flow is disrupted, and a lot of things begin to go wrong. Just one of these is a fouled up metabolism, which is strongly related to weight control.
Proper nutrition is always heralded as the top factor that influences good health. The truth is, however, that good sleep has a vital impact on what and how we eat, and how our bodies respond to this habit. Poor sleep by itself already wreaks havoc on our insides and outsides by preventing our cells from properly regenerating and our hormones from keeping us functioning properly. Poor sleep also, however, attacks us from a different angle by affecting our eating habits. Poor sleep makes our bodies think that we need more food. When we don’t get good sleep, we lack of energy, and the confused body tries to make up for it. In reality, the body does not need more food. Nothing can compensate for good sleep. The additional food that we eat therefore does nothing but make us fat.
Many studies have also been conducted on the relationship between sleep and food intake. These studies show that there are physical and psychological factors working together to make us eat more than we need to when we don’t sleep well. Simply put, when we who don’t get good sleep, we tend to have bigger appetites than normal – the physical side – and a stronger urge than normal to snack – the psychological side. These two factors compound to result in weight gain that can quickly become unmanageable as the cycle of poor sleep continues.
Good sleep is a vital component in the normal functioning of our bodies’ hormones. These hormones do many things, as discussed above. Some of them are responsible for regulating appetite. On the physical side, these hormones begin to balloon outside of the normal range when we don’t get good sleep. Higher levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin, which signals that we are hungry, makes us think that we need to eat when we actually are just responding to a defective release of that hormone. Correlated decreases in the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin further causes us to feel hungry when we shouldn’t. This dangerous combination means a continuous cycle of poor appetite regulation and overeating.
On top of all of this that is going on inside us, poor sleep also dampens the mood and encourages abnormal behaviour. When we get good sleep, everything in the body works properly. It gets the right signals for what to eat and when. When we don’t sleep well, our signals get crossed and we crave snacks that aren’t good for us. The misfiring hormones tell us to eat fatty, sugary, and other high-calorie foods that give us no benefits and just make us fat. We think that they make us feel better, but this is just another deceptive result of our abnormal hormonal functioning.
The bottom line is that people who get good sleep are able to maintain proper energy and motivational levels that encourage them to engage in healthy levels of physical activity. Their bodies’ internal systems also function well, signaling them what the right amount of calories and the right kinds of foods are, and when the right times are to eat them. They therefore naturally maintain their proper weight without an enormous – and sometimes futile – struggle.