Have you ever heard the expression, "I'll sleep when I'm dead."?

It's not too far from the truth. For many people, their sleep and the rest of their health gets put on the back burner. As a society we have filled our schedules to the brim and expect to recharge our bodies with artificial fuels such as caffeine and sugary treats. Surveys suggest that Americans get 6.5 hours of sleep per night. That kind of consistent lack of sleep can put the body high risk for sleep deprivation, chemical imbalances and other health complications.

The human body needs at least 8 hours of sleep to function properly. Let me guess, you're thinking..." yeah well, I'm doing pretty well with my 5 hours of sleep; it's enough for me to get by." What if I told you that your lack of sleep is making you fat? Now, do I have your attention? All of the hard workouts and clean eating is not always going to make the number on the scale go down until you increase your sleep.

Exactly how lack of sleep affects our ability to lose weight has a lot to do with our hormones.

Not only are we more likely to consume junk food and sugary beverages to stay awake, we also become more stressed. An increase in stress will over activate the release of the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol levels increase, our chances of weight loss greatly decrease. In addition to that, the more tired and stressed we are, the less likely we are to fit exercise into our day.

Two other hormones that are key in this process are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.

More ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain.

Inadequate Sleep:

  • Interferes with the body's ability to metabolize carbohydrates.
  • Increases cravings for carbohydrates/ sugars.
  • Changes in hormone secretion.
  • Increases risk of diabetes.
  • Increase risk of heart disease.
  • Increase risk of high blood pressure.
  • Slows reaction time.
  • Alters mood.
  • Impairs cognitive function.

The key is, to make more time for sleep.

You may be surprised how much time you waste, in front of the television, computer or even texting in the middle of the night.

Make it a priority to get those extra zzzzz's! It's important to your health!