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"Do you get enough sleep?" - 22 February 2017

We live in a fast paced world and sometimes it seems that there just isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything.  In our busy lives, sleep often takes a back seat and many people don’t get the National Sleep Foundation’s recommended 7 to 9 hours a night. 

So why is it so important to get enough sleep? 

Sleep has a huge impact upon:
  • Weight loss
  • The immune system
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Our general health and wellbeing and much more…

How does insufficient sleep affect all these different areas?

Lack of sleep triggers the imbalance of three different hormones:

1. ↑
Known as the “hunger hormone” which is normally released before meals and decreases after meals.

2. ↓
Known as the “stop eating hormone” tells the body when you are satisfied and is secreted after meals letting you know you are full.

3. ↑ Cortisol 
 Known as the “stress hormone” which is released when you are stressed and stimulates appetite.

What happens when these hormones are imbalanced? 

When the above hormones are imbalanced this causes us not only to be more stressed, but to eat more than our body needs. Weight gain can be affected profoundly as people who sleep less not only grab sweet foods to perk themselves up but also have increased cravings for carbohydrates, leading to excessive consumption. 

With a continuous lack of sleep, the body utilises these various coping mechanisms to deal with the hormonal imbalance and this in turn causes weight gain.  So, if you find that you average 4-5 hours of sleep getting that extra 2 hours sleep a night can have a vast impact on your health and wellbeing! 

Struggling to fall asleep at night? Here are some tips from the NHS to help prepare you for a good night's sleep.

Written by Anna Wojcik BSc., MSc., RNutr.

Markwald,R.,  Melanson, Smith M.,  Higgins, J., Perreault L.,  Eckel R., Wright K. 2013. “Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily expenditure, food intake, and weight gain” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 110. No. 14. pp. 5695-5700.

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