Lack of sleep is linked to almost every major disease from Alzheimer’s, cancer and diabetes to heart disease and obesity. Chronic lack of sleep can have devastating psychological effects as well: memory impairment, concentration difﬁculties, mood swings, even depression. Less well-known is that what happens to your body chemistry when you sleep has a huge effect on your weight and your mood.
Hunger and fullness
Sleep is the time when your heart and blood vessels heal and repair protecting you from heart and kidney diseases, strokes and low blood pressure. How you sleep affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood sugar level. What’s more, the hormones responsible for feeling hungry or full – ghrelin and leptin – are produced at night. Less sleep reduces the body’s production of leptin, which is the hormone responsible for sending signals of fullness to our brains. A lack of sleep increases the body’s production of cortisol, which can actually make it more difﬁcult to burn body fat due to its negative effect on insulin sensitivity. The bottom line: the less you sleep, the more you eat and the less you burn off.”
Less sleep = Less willpower
And if that wasn’t enough, a lack of sleep decreases mental clarity, focus, and willpower, making it much more difﬁcult to not cave into eating that entire bag of M&M’s you shouldn’t have in your pantry.
Tips for better sleep
It’s not only how much sleep you get that’s important – if the quality of sleep is not right, you will not get its full beneﬁts. Here are a few tricks that can help you get as much rest as possible.
Firstly, remember that your bed should be reserved for sleep only. If you have a habit of working or eating in bed you should try to do it somewhere else. Studies prove that separating workspace and sleeping space can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better throughout the night.
Secondly, try to create a non-digital time before turning off the lights. For all sorts of reasons it can be difﬁcult to stay off the phone, but even 15 minutes of reading or quiet contemplation can work wonders. Also, cut down on alcohol. A glass of wine will help your sleep, two or three will disturb it.
Finally, the old school rule: get into a routine with a set schedule of regular times to go to bed and get up.