Why Just One Night’s Lack of Sleep Can Cause Cravings and Poor Judgement – Tips To Sleep Like a Baby

Why Just One Night’s Lack of Sleep Can Cause Cravings and Poor Judgement – Tips To Sleep Like a Baby

Posted by Lori Shemek; September 11, 2013

You most likely are familiar with the agony of a sleepless night, the tossing, the turning, the thoughts that won’t quit and more. You are not alone. In fact, according to the CDC, 41 million American workers do not get enough sleep. That’s a staggering statistic!

Unfortunately, the tossing and turning is only the beginning. How does lack of sleep and weight gain sound? Not too appetizing I’m sure. The sad truth is that when we lose even one night of restful sleep, an increase in cravings for junk food occurs due to the blunting effect that governs judgement and complex decision making in the frontal lobe of the brain.  If that’s not enough, with even just one night of less than stellar sleep, there is an increase in activity in the deeper brain regions that responds to rewards – a.k.a. junk food.

So is this why people who tend to sleep less are overweight or obese? Yes, but there are foundational weight balance hormones at play here too. When we lose sleep, you are also upsetting the delicate hormone balance necessary for lean body weight.

Two major hormones with regard to sleep loss that are very important in terms of appetite and a lack of it are the hormones Leptin and Grehlin. Leptin and ghrelin work in tandem, a ‘balancing act’ to control feelings of hunger and fullness. Simply, when you don’t get enough to eat, you drive the hormone Leptin levels down and that means you do not feel as if you’ve had enough to eat. You are not quite satisfied. On the opposite end, when you are not getting enough sleep, you drive the hormone Grehlin levels to rise. Grehlin is considered a hunger hormone that signals your body it is time eat and so you want more food. Grehlin stimulates your appetite.

Here are sleeping tips to help you log in more than just a few hours of zzzz’s a night and help you ward off the pesky Leptin and Grehlin imbalance and help you to sleep like a baby:

Fall Asleep Fast Tonight:

  • Make sure it is dark where you sleep. If you can see your hand in the dark, it is not dark enough
  • Watch the caffeine intake after lunch.
  • Watch the alcohol. Alcohol can interfere with your important REM sleep and other deeper stages of sleep. Moderation is key and packs on the pounds if not.

Before Sleeping:

  • Stare up at the ceiling and count down from 60. Gazing upward stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers blood pressure and slows the pace of the breath. Slow, deliberate counting will also help rid your mind of distractions.
  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth 10 times. Deep breathing slows the heart rate and calms the body. Focusing on your stomach rising and falling, and your breath flowing in and out, will help you concentrate on your body, instead of outside distractions.
  • Imagine floating on a cloud, and what you would see passing by. Guided imagery is a powerful meditation tool that can give you a temporary escape from everyday worries and stresses. Invite all your senses to participate: Imagine what you see, hear, and smell in this peaceful place.
  • Slowly tense and relax your muscles, from your head down to your toes. The body responds to stress by involuntarily tensing your muscles, which can cause pain and discomfort. Progressive muscle relaxation reduces muscle tension and general mental anxiety.

By taking that extra effort for better sleep, you will not only sleep like a baby, but create optimal health as well.

~Lori Shemek