Lately, I have been waking up at 3:00 AM and finding it hard to go back to sleep. I thought about starting my days at 3:00 AM and adjusting my bedtime to 7:00 PM, but that seemed irrational. Instead, I started reading articles about how to get a better night’s sleep. They all seemed to say the same thing: have a night-time routine, no screen time, no exercise or alcohol within 2 hours of sleeping, make sure your bedroom is clutter-free, and that the bed is for two things only (hint: they both begin with the letter S).
Without getting into my sex life, I realized that I do almost everything in my bedroom. It’s my quiet escape room where I sometimes eat, watch TV, play Wordscapes, read, and even exercise when I can’t get to the gym. Willing to try anything to stop my 3 AM interludes, I decided to declutter. I made our bedroom look more like a relaxing hotel room rather than Kim’s dorm room. It’s been three nights, and so far, so good. I am sleeping better.
While reading various articles on sleep, I ran across several studies that associated sleep loss with an increased risk of obesity and diabetes. Can better sleep help us get to a healthier weight? Yes, it can. I kept reading to learn more and share my findings with our Active Life Fitness community, where the topic of sleep is commonly discussed. To avoid putting you to sleep while reading this, I made it into a story…
The Siblings Who Refused to Go to Bed: Leptin and Ghrelin
Leptin and Ghrelin are hormones. These cute little guys are from the neuroendocrine system.
The neuroendocrine system is the system in our bodies responsible for controlling our appetites! That is worth repeating. The neuroendocrine system is responsible for controlling our appetites. (Ever notice that when you are sleep deprived, you crave carbs? Read on…)
I didn’t know my appetite had bosses! 😨
Leptin tells our brain, “Ok, I am good to go. I am full. I don’t need any more food right now.” Leptin tells us when we are satisfied – commonly referred to as the satiety factor. However, when we are sleep deprived, leptin is decreased. In essence, less sleep equals a decrease in food being able to satisfy us, which leads to overeating, which leads to weight gain.
Ghrelin signals our caloric needs. Ghrelin tells us when to eat and how much to eat. Lack of sleep increases ghrelin, thereby increasing the need to eat more. Decreases in Leptin and increases in Ghrelin, caused by sleep loss, make us gain weight. All of your hard work exercising at the gym and improving your nutrition doesn’t mean a thing if you are sleep deprived.
My recommendation: Don’t let those little brats Leptin and Ghrelin destroy all of the hard work you do at the gym. Don’t let them sabotage your diet. Take charge of your bedroom and make the necessary changes to sleep better. Your life depends on it!
Active Life Fitness
94 North Avenue, Garwood, NJ