That title seems too good to be true doesn't it? Sleeping to lose weight. How dreamy! ;) Sleep can help you lose weight by allowing your body proper time to rest and repair itself. Your hormones balance, your stress levels lower and your body can make itself more efficient at using energy.
Cortisol is one of our body's stress hormones. It's released from your adrenal glands and plays an important role in how our body uses carbohydrates/sugar for energy. When you're in a life threatening situation, cortisol can make your body release stores of energy for immediate use and sharpen your brain. However, if cortisol remains high because of chronic stress it can contribute to insulin resistance, weight gain, high blood pressure, mental illness and more. When you are sleep deprived your body can release more cortisol than normal to help you stay alert and awake to function during the day. Having elevated cortisol levels works against your weight loss efforts.
Hunger hormones are also balanced when you sleep. Two of the big bosses of hunger and satiety are ghrelin (increases hunger) and leptin (increases satiety). When you sleep sufficiently these hormones are balanced. If you're sleep deprived you'll have more ghrelin and less leptin causing you to overeat and gain weight.
If you've been trying to lose weight but you're not sleeping enough you're working against yourself. Sleep 7-9 hours of sleep and not only will you improve you mental capacity to make healthy choices throughout your day, you'll also optimize your body's ability to lose weight.
Life is stressful. We have bad stress and we have good stress. I haven't met ONE person that isn't under some sort of stress. Stress increases our risk of disease and weight gain so having strategies to manage stress should be a high priority. In fact, I think everyone should have to take stress management as a class in school. ha! Alright so instead of talking about why we need to reduce stress (because you probably already know) I'm just going to list my top ten ways to cope with stress! Enjoy!
2. Adequate Sleep
3. Time Management (good planner or calendar app)
4. Quiet Time
5. Set Healthy Boundaries (concerning time commitments, relationships)
6. Eat Healthy Foods
7. Hike (or spend some time in nature)
8. Get Out! (with a good friend or your spouse for good food or a fun time)
9. Talk to Someone (good friend, counselor, wise person you know and share about life, get advice or encouragement)
10. Practice Gratefulness (make a list of things you're grateful for!)
Try some of these next time you're feeling overwhelmed and let me know how it goes! You may have to try more than one to really help but choosing these actions instead of other unhealthy coping behaviors will be greatly beneficial in the long run.