Sleep and Weight Loss - Are They Connected?

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Did you know that poor sleep is a major risk factor for being overweight? It's true! Unfortunately, UK adults are chronically short on sleep - with 54% only getting 6 hours of sleep a night, which adds up to around 11 hours of missed sleep in a week. In fact, it's one of the top health concerns across the UK, with nearly 1 in 4 hours (22%) ranking sleeping better as their top health priority, second only to losing weight (27%). This brings up an interesting point, because actually both problems could be addressed at the same time. Because sleep and weight are closely linked together, the better you sleep, the more healthy your weight will be. So, if you're trying to lose weight, then making sure you're getting enough sleep is just as important as your diet and exercise. But how does sleep affect weight loss? Here's how.

The Sleepless Chain Reaction

Think about the last time you felt really tired. You got a bad nights sleep, and wake up groggy. You opt for a large morning latte to try and get your brain working. You decide to skip your morning workout because you're too tired to move that much. Work is a slog, so by the evening you feel wiped out and decide to get take away instead of cooking. And then you end up going to bed late because you're uncomfortably full. This is a pretty regular pattern for most people, happening at least a few times a month. So because you aren't getting enough sleep, the lack of movement and increase in food means your weight will creep up.

On top of that, being low on sleep is setting up your brain for making bad decisions. Lack of sleep dulls the activity in your brain’s frontal lobe, which is where your decision-making and impulse control live. So dulling that activity is a little being slightly tipsy – you don’t have the clarity you need to make good decisions. Which makes it much easier to go for that takeaway, to avoid the exercise, and to eat snacks to boost your energy through the day.

And finally, when you’re overtired and running on too little sleep, your brain sends the reward centres of your brain into hyperdrive, looking for something to make you feel good to counteract the tiredness. So while you might be able to ignore any cravings when you’re well-rested, your sleep-deprived brain will make it difficult to say no to all that comfort food. And so your weight can start creeping up if you feel tired all the time.

So why is sleep so important for weight loss? Because sleep can easily have an impact on your weight without you really realising it.

What Is The Relationship Between Weight And Sleep?

The relationship between weight and sleep is interesting, because while it’s clear that they are very closely linked, there is still a lot we don’t know about the relationship. The most popular theory at the moment is centred around how much sleep affects your appetite. After all, hunger isn’t controlled by the stomach, it’s controlled by neurotransmitters, which are the chemical messengers that allow neurons to communicate with one another. Out of all the neurotransmitters in your brain, there are 2 that control appetite – Ghrelin and Leptin. Ghrelin promotes hunger, while Leptin contributes to feeling full. Your brain will naturally increase and decrease the levels of these chemicals during the day as a signal that you need to consume more calories. So if you’re feeling hungry, it’s because your brain has released a big dose of Gherlin. And if you suddenly feel full while eating. It's the Leptin at work.

Where does sleep come into this? Well a lack of sleep has been shown to interfere with the body’s ability to regulate these neurotransmitters. Studies done on the topic have found that men who got 4 hours of sleep had increase levels of ghrelin and decreased leptin compared to those who got 10 hours sleep. This leads to increased feelings of hunger in those who are sleep deprived, as well as less ability to tell when they are actually full – meaning they are more likely to overeat and gain weight. But when their sleep levels returned to normal, these imbalances evened out, and their weight dropped again.

There have been many other studies around the connection between sleep and food – from finding that sleep deprivation affects food preferences, and sleep deprived people tend to choose foods that are higher in calories and carbohydrate. Or that decreased sleep interferes with the bodies endocannabinoid system, which is the area targeted by many sleep aids. Or that too little sleep interferes with your metabolism, causing spikes in cortisol that tell your body to hang on to as much fat as it can. So while we might not know the exact reason for the link, there is no doubt that sleep and weight are closely related.

Can Hypnotherapy Help With Sleep, or Weight Loss?

Quite often people look to hypnotherapy for a way to help them sleep, or to help them lose weight – not realising that it could actually help them do both. By using hypnotherapy to focus on improving your sleep, you can naturally boost your chances of losing weight. And similarly, by using hypnotherapy as a tool to aid in healthy weight loss, you will probably see an improvement in your sleeping patterns too. Quite often I find tackling the sleep issues first tends to get the best results, as it helps your body ‘reset’ its natural chemical balance, making your weight loss journey a little easier.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is the ideal tool to help with sleep issues and weight issues. Through a combination of psychotherapy and hypnosis, I can help you identify and overcome the underlying issues that are causing your sleep problems- whether that’s anxiety or bad sleep habits – and provides the support needed to make lasting changes and improve your sleep patterns. Since our minds follow well-trodden neural pathways, it can be a challenge to change those patterns on our own. Solution Focussed Hypnotherapy uses guided relaxation techniques to help your mind relax and bring the conscious and subconscious minds together to focus on positive thoughts and suggestion. When combined with a hypnotic relaxation audio track, it’s the perfect recipe for a good night’s sleep.

If you would like to improve your sleep, please get in touch to book your free initial chat where you can ask questions and receive advice in confidence.

Feel free to book an initial chat or get in touch to ask for advice or ask questions

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Major is a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist and Mindset Specialist. His therapeutic approach combines psychotherapy and clinical hypnotherapy techniques, based on the latest research from neuroscience. Through one to one sessions, workshops and talks, he helps clients overcome the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression which may have been holding them back, so they can lead more fulfilling lives and careers.

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