How Sleep can Help You Achieve a Healthy Weight

The sleep and weight gain debacle is an age-old problem. It has been documented time and again people who sleep less than seven hours a night are inclined to snack or create variable meal habits. Furthermore, studies have shown increased BMI (body mass index) in people who don't sleep enough.

It's your classic chicken and egg scenario. Tired people are less likely to exercise which can, in turn, result in weight gain and carrying that extra weight makes you more tired. Tired people are also inclined to reach for high sugar, high carb foods in an attempt to make it through the day.

When we feel stressed our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is designed to deal with stressful situations - like when cavemen hunted for food and wrestled dangerous animals! Unfortunately, high cortisol levels lower our metabolism and tell the body to store fat - just like it would have done for cavemen who didn't find a meal for a few days. Times have changed with supermarkets and takeaways, but our bodies are still very primal and respond in the same way they did thousands of years ago. When stressed, we also tend to eat more, drink more alcohol and send our bodies 'out of whack' even more.

These days, cortisol levels are usually only lowered when we experience a night of deep and restful sleep. Other common effects of high cortisol include increased blood sugar, loss of bone calcium, depression and high blood pressure. A great night's sleep equals lowered cortisol, more energy, better eating patterns and concentration.

Remember the last time you had flu? You wanted to sleep more, right? Sleep is your body's chance to recharge itself and put things right again. Exercise also aids with a restful night's sleep - just as long the exercise isn't too close to your bedtime. An intensive pump class at 8pm will keep you on a physical 'high' for hours to come.

So close that laptop, put down your phone. It's time to lie back and dream about how productive and wonderful tomorrow will be after you've done your mind and body a favour with a peaceful night's sleep.

Read about other sleeping tips over on the blog.