As an integratively focused Heath, Wellness and Nutrition Consultant I look at the many aspects of overall health and how they are intertwined. While there are numerous factors when considering the big wellness picture, getting enough quality sleep is a critical factor as it plays a crucial and supportive role in many (if not all) of our bodily functions!

When it comes to weight loss, the quality and quantity of your sleep may not be a factor you have considered before, but it should be!! Studies have found that poor sleep can be linked to weight gain and obesity, which in turn can further affect the quality of your sleep. As such, many sleep disorders including sleep apnea, are worsened resulting in a vicious cycle that can be difficult to overcome. (1)

Sleep is truly a time for our bodies and minds to rest, recuperate and re-balance. It’s a time that critical hormones are replenished including two very important weight related ones, grehlin and leptin. Grehlin is a hormone that sends the hunger signal from your stomach to your brain. When the stomach is empty, levels are high, and as you might have guessed, low after you eat. The hormone leptin, is released from fat cells signalling fullness and suppressing hunger. Lack of adequate sleep promotes the body to make more grehlin and less leptin which not only increases your appetite, but also makes you feel hungry! (2)

Needless to say, without adequate sleep feeling tired and easily fatigued during the day can become common place. This type of daytime fatigue can in turn decrease your motivation and ability to perform daily crucial physical activity, that is so important to attaining optimal health. As we know, daily exercise promotes good sleep, and weight maintenance/loss, so here again we have a vicious cycle that is hard to escape.

Here are some Simple Principles that you can put into place right now to ensure that important quality sleep:

  • First up - If your bed or pillows are uncomfortable it’s time to replace them!! Your bed needs to be supportive and comfortable to ensure a good night’s sleep. Along the same lines, sheets and comforters need to be replaced regularly - make sure to get ones that fit your needs with regard to comfort and care.

  • Your bedroom needs to be dark. This may mean room darkening curtains, and low light alarm clocks etc...

  • Electronics are not for the bedroom! This one will be difficult for some of you but keep in mind that having your phone, tablet, television the room sets you up for less sleep. Blue light from these devices is not supportive of sleep and rest, and should be avoided several hours prior to going to bed. Additionally, having your phone near your bed can not only interrupt your sleep, but may be tempting to look at during the night, again disrupting sound sleep habits.

  • No eating within 3 hours of bedtime. This gives your body time to digest that last meal of the day thus allowing your body to focus on nightly repairing, restoring and rejuvenating that it is meant to do during sleep. Additionally, this will only be helpful for those of you with heartburn, GERD or other indigestion issues.

  • No caffeine after 3pm - Be sure and read your labels for hidden sources of caffeine!

  • Regular exercise definitely helps with sleep, however, do not do vigorous exercise too close to bedtime as it can have the opposite effect!

The bottom line is that sleep is an important and integral part of overall wellness. Inadequate sleep, leads to weight gain and the more weight you gain the more difficult sleep can become. Lack of sleep and sleep disorders can also contribute to many other illnesses including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. (3) In the end it’s about establishing healthy sleeping habits that can help you attain and maintain a healthy weight so you can Be Great and Feel Well!!

In Health and Wellness - Erica