Weight-Loss, Diet, Exercise and Sleep

Getting enough quality sleep a night is an important component of a weight loss plan yet it is often overlooked.  The recommended number of hours of sleep a night for an adult is 7 to 9, but in our fast-paced and often over-scheduled days many adults do not get enough.
When you sleep your body is busy repairing itself.  Metabolic, immune, neurological and tissue recovery occur.  Not enough sleep results in hormonal imbalances that sabotage your weight-loss efforts during the day.
With not enough sleep the appetite enhancing hormone ghrelin increases and leptin, a hormone that enhances metabolism and curbs your appetite, goes down.


Less sleep is also associated with elevated levels of cortisol.High levels of cortisol fuel appetite, make us feel hungry for sugary, carb-laden treats, and deposits fat around the abdomen.


Getting enough sleep also allows more growth hormones to be released which stimulate muscle building.  By building muscle (through exercise and sleep) you will increase your metabolism.


Regular exercise in general will improve the quality of your sleep but if done in the evening it may be overly stimulating.  Be aware and adjust your workout time if necessary.


Digestive activities are also stimulating and may interfere with sleep so don’t eat a meal close to bedtime.  The last meal of the day should be at least 3 hours before bed.  Ensuring that your meal has adequate amounts of tryptophan foods like meat, poultry, fish or legumes will help your body relax and sleep.


On the other hand going to bed hungry can also interfere with sleep.  If needed grab a small handful of almonds or some yogurt, both contain calcium and magnesium that help to induce relaxation and their source of tryptophan helps with sleep.


Supplements that can help you sleep are 5-HTP (a derivative of tryptophan), melatonin (a hormone that regulates sleep) and the sedative herb valerian.  Please discuss any supplements that you’d like to take with your doctor or naturopath first.


Remember that caffeine is stimulating and for some even caffeine taken early in the day will negatively affect sleep.  Alcohol is not a stimulant but it negatively affects sleep by disrupting the sequence and duration of sleep states, as well as total sleep time.