Professor Derk-Jan Dijk is the head of the sleep and physiology unit at Surrey University and has recently produced findings on the effects poor sleeping habits have on our weight. These results have been joined by a breakthrough from Cambridge University that sheds new light on the link between sleeping patterns and weight gain.
Professor Derk-Jan Dijk explains that when we get a poor night’s sleep we disrupt hundreds of different genes that regulate our ability to cope with stress, immunity and inflammation. On top of this, it also increases the amount of hormones linked to weight gain and even triggers cravings for unhealthy foods.
Dr. Julian Griffin from Cambridge University says that while it has been known for a while that our body clock affects our weight, new research reveals that the body has many different internal clocks, including fat cells.
When the internal clocks related to metabolism are out of sync (which happens when sleeping patterns are disrupted) the risk of our body systems malfunctioning and converting calories to fat increases.
When the body clock in our fat cells is disrupted by lack of sleep, they become less responsive to insulin. This means we are less able to control blood sugar levels, which can result in cravings and lethargy. Another key body clock to consider is the liver’s. When you eat at an unusual time, the liver is ill equipped to process the nutrients and becomes less effective at clearing any fats from the bloodstream.
Insomnia has also been shown to increase levels of a hormone called ghrelin, or ‘the hunger hormone’. This chemical increases our appetite and even helps calories to be retained as fat. Studies have also shown that after a bad night’s sleep we are more likely to crave fatty, sugary and salty foods. This is most likely because our bodies and brains are on the hunt for a quick energy boost you can get from these foods.
To help combat these effects it is important to maintain a routine, as consistency is the key to a good night’s sleep. Try having a warm bath and a glass of milk a couple of hours before you go to bed, learn relaxation techniques and write down any worries you have before heading to bed.
If you are struggling with either insomnia or weight loss (or a combination of the two) seeing a hypnotherapist could help. For more information and to find a hypnotherapist near you, please see our Insomnia and Weight Loss pages.
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