The Sleep/Weight Loss Connection



Well, if it seems that everything these days makes you fat, you can add one more lifestyle factor. Too little sleep is associated with weight gain. That can mean that you don’t spend enough time in the sack, or it can mean that the time you spend is not giving you enough restful sleep.

I think of sleep as a way for the body to recharge its batteries and do some housecleaning. We know that the organs like liver detoxify in the middle of the night, and cortisol levels may rise as blood sugar drops. These behind-the-scenes functions can cause wakefulness if your adrenals are weak or your liver over-burdened, or your blood sugar is too high or low.

So, if you are waking up and not able to go back to sleep, consider that a sign that you need a sort out regarding your body.

If you are just burning the midnight oil, or unable to tear yourself away from some interesting activity, try setting an alarm clock to make yourself go to bed! Then follow the routine and get yourself to bed earlier for a couple of weeks and see how you feel. Don’t be surprised if you are less moody, less forgetful, look better and hear comments from family and friends that you seem in a better mood.

So many of us are sleep deprived, that we forget what it is like to really be rested. And the body needs plenty of sleep for adrenal function. So, sleep too little and your cortisol levels rise, which makes your body think there is danger around. It will then hold on to fat as a protective mechanism. In the past, danger often meant that food got scarce, so fat was a cushion against starvation. In these days of over-abundance of food for many, there is no danger, but our bodies have not caught up with our modern lifestyles.


So, to placate your ancestral heritage, go to bed before 11 pm or even earlier, if you must rise at dawn, and catch up on sleep whenever you miss a full night. Taking a beauty nap is also a weight loss nap. You might be able to sleep yourself thin, as long as you get plenty of moderate exercise when you are awake. Studies show that humans actually sleep nine hours, away from electric light stimulation. Keep your bedroom dark and that may help your hormones that influence sleep.

Don’t eat carbs or sweets after dinner, to keep your blood sugar from plummeting during the night. Try a little good fat like butter or nut butter, with some protein or veggies. There are many sleep aids, such as herbal preparations, which can calm the body to sleep. California Poppy, Valerian, Passion Flower, and Kava are a few of them. Adrenal supplements taken during the day may help, as well as a combination of calcium and magnesium for the nervous system. Get your thyroid checked if you have trouble sleeping and experience palpitations when you lie down to rest.

Children play hard and sleep hard. We can take a lesson. Good sleep is not a luxury. It is a necessity for health and longevity. And now you know the added bonus that it helps you to lose weight.

If sleep is a problem for you, don't walk around bleary-eyed. Let's fix it by finding out what is keeping you awake and using natural medicine to correct it. Email me or come in for a consultation. You can be better rested-and slimmer.