Lockdown is bringing out some interesting behaviour in all of us. I for one, am finding myself, almost magnetically drawn to my fridge and it’s contents. Leftover cauliflower cheese from a roast dinner makes a surprisingly good morning snack, I will have you know.
Sleep is also hard to come by, whether you are feeling increased anxiety surrounding the coronavirus pandemic or you’re staying up later because, well, you don’t need to drag yourself up at 6 am to start your commute.
We have always been told that sleep can have an impact on your health, but does it directly impact your weight?
Being Tired and Gaining Weight
The original theory was that poor sleep quality was linked to an increased risk of obesity and a deregulated appetite according to Science Daily. It seems that there are multiple reasons for this.
The first being, when your brain is tired, you make rubbish decisions. We are more likely to opt for a large coffee to get us going and a quick and easy junk-filled breakfast (we are all guilty of detouring through the drive-through on the way to work on a sleepy morning).
The top excuse for skipping exercise is a bad night’s sleep and tiredness - pair that with a Chinese for dinner and another late night and we are in a vicious cycle.
Every once in a while, this is fine. A cheeky takeaway and a large coffee here and there isn’t going to have you rapidly piling on the pounds, but. If you’re struggling to sleep regularly, this will be a concern more frequently.
The other way that poor quality sleep has been proven to affect your weight is through your metabolism and spikes in cortisol. Basically, a lack of sleep triggers the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol then signals your body to conserve energy to fuel you, meaning that you’re more likely to hand onto fat.
University of Chicago researchers state that lack of sleep makes you “metabolically groggy”, and with just four days of insufficient sleep your body’s ability to produce insulin is thrown off. Meaning that your body struggles to process fat from your bloodstream and stores it instead!
So, does sleeping late make you gain weight? Kind of! Sleeping won’t help you lose weight per se, but not sleeping may mess with metabolism, contributing to weight gain.
So, we know that it’s possible that poor sleep can make it harder to shift weight. But, new research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine says that it may, in fact, be the other way around. Being overweight, or carrying more weight, may cause you to have poorer sleep.
The study states:
“We think that sleep is a function of the body trying to conserve energy in a setting where energetic levels are going down. Our findings suggest that if you were to fast for a day, we would predict you might get sleepy because your energetic stores would be depleted.”
So basically, the worse you eat, the less you sleep! Now we aren’t encouraging you all to start a lockdown fast, nor to drop the crisps and pick up an apple. It’s a pandemic, we deserve that extra biscuit!
But if you’re struggling to sleep during this time and your junk food intake has increased, this could be why.
Being overweight negatively impact your sleep in many ways, mainly through breathing problems. These can then cause sleep apnea and snoring! We can often see the additional weight that we carry on our stomach or behind, but it also crowds around our necks, airways and the base of our tongues preventing proper breathing.
1. Eat a Healthy and Balanced Breakfast
Most of us aren’t commuting these days, so my recommendation is to use that time to make yourself the best breakfast you possibly can. Eggs, toast, smoothie bowls, anything you fancy? Treat yourself to something that you don’t usually have time to make.
This way you might only have one elevensies biscuit instead of the whole packet.
2. Choose Healthier Snacks
We are in a crazy time, and I for one, am definitely not eating the healthiest, but I am trying to make healthier choices where I can. Snacking on fruit and nuts is going to keep you going for longer without that huge sugar high that you will get from a chocolate bar and a bottle of coke.
3. Eat Dinner at a Reasonable Time
Now this one is hard. I find myself sitting at my computer longer now that I’m working from home thinking, “well I don’t need to commute, so I can work ten more minutes”. No! Stop that!
Finish early and start cooking dinner. This way your food has plenty of time to settle so that you can go to sleep at a reasonable time.
4. Go to Bed at a Reasonable Time
Go to bed at a good time and curl up on a foam mattress! The only real way to get a good night’s sleep that will help your body, cortisol levels and metabolism is by committing to a routine and getting a good early night.
Send Us Your Tips
This is just a few ways that you can start moving out of that vicious cycle of eating rubbish, gaining weight and not sleeping! Let us know on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram how you’re eating and sleeping and do you notice a link between the two?