Sleep is arguably one of the most significant silent factors in poor ability to manage energy levels and also weight, for many reasons. The good news is, there is much we can do to influence the quality of our sleep with lifestyle and nutritional choices and get back in charge of energy management and weight control.

Lack of sleep affects our hormones, and ultimately our nutritional choices thereafter. When you are tired your body produces more of the hunger hormone ghrelin and less of the appetite control hormone leptin. So you will be hungrier, and have less control too, you will really be fighting a losing battle!

You are more likely to feel stressed after a lack of sleep which will elevate another hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is a stress, adrenaline hormone inducing a ‘fight or flight’ response in times of stress. It raises your blood sugar and when cortisol is persistently elevated, your body begins to conserve and store fuel, so you burn your calories consumed at a lesser rate. It’s your metabolisms way of making sure you are holding fuel ready for action.

So stress, leading to cortisol will really get in the way of you bodies ability to burn fuel efficiently and as cortisol will really disrupt your sleep, do all you can, to address your stress too.

Help yourself to better sleep:

Be cautious of caffeine, all day; but especially after lunch. Sensitivity to caffeine can dramatically prevent you relaxing into sleep.

Alcohol and sugary foods cause highs and lows in your blood sugar which will also disrupt your sleep, as your insulin levels fall in the night. In addition, the dehydration caused by alcohol will wake you.

Eating heavy meals late at night will keep your digestive system highly active, heart rate higher and cause disturbance too let alone the physical discomfort of being full. Exercise late at night will raise adrenaline leaving you alert and unable to relax. Keep calm and take measures to manage your stress, keeping the hormone cortisol in control.

Use activities to help you relax well in time for bed, warm baths, reading, and avoid working on screens where the blue light emitted is proven to reduce production of melatonin, our sleep hormone. Nutrition can help too – the amino acid tryptophan is found in foods such as milk, bananas and poultry. Tryptophan aids the production of serotonin and melatonin, the relaxant happy hormones essential for a good nights rest.

Do all you can to get a good nights rest, and feel better!

Louise