The Third Pillar of HealthSleep has been called the "third pillar" of health for good reason. What typically happens when you don't get enough sleep?
- Your brain gets foggy
- Your metabolism slows down
- Your skin loses its glow
- Your blood pressure goes up
- Your libido goes down (literally)
- Your immune system gets weak
You have certainly heard the term "beauty sleep," but did you know that routinely getting less than the recommended amount of sleep can disrupt hormones and cause food cravings and weight gain?
Researchers have proven that how much you sleep, (and sometimes the quality of your sleep), can manipulate the hormones that regulate your appetite. A chronic sleep deficit leads to elevated levels of a hormone called ghrelin, and lower levels of a hormone called leptin in your body.
The Seesaw Effect of Ghrelin and Leptin
Remember that some hormones work together like two kids on a seesaw -- and sometimes, one side of the seesaw gets stuck in the ground, throwing you off balance.
Ghrelin and leptin, the two appetite-regulating hormones, work this way. Ghrelin is produced in your stomach and notifies your brain when you are hungry. Leptin is produced in the fat cells and tells your brain when you are full and no longer need to eat.
The Relationship Between Ghrelin, Leptin, and Sleep
When you do not get enough sleep, your higher ghrelin levels send the signal that you need to eat, but the lower leptin levels are not high enough to tell you when to stop! When lack of sleep drives leptin levels down, you don't feel as satisfied after you eat. As you can imagine, this leads to extra snacking and overeating.
After only one day of sleep restriction, studies have found that ghrelin levels are markedly higher, while leptin levels are markedly suppressed. That's why, when you are chronically tired, you also feel ravenously hungry. Your body is playing tricks on your brain! Over time, chronic partial sleep loss leads to more and more weight gain.
When you have chronic lack of sleep, it also disrupts glucose and insulin metabolism, leading to a condition called "leptin resistance." When you become leptin resistant, your brain can no longer "read" the signals of fullness from the leptin in your body. This leads you to overeat since you are unable to recognize when your body is "full."
If an already-existing condition of estrogen dominance has you tossing and turning at night, you are probably struggling with a cycle of high cortisol, high ghrelin, low leptin, and low progesterone that perpetuates all the other symptoms.
Get Your Sleep!
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. If you are not meeting the recommended range of sleep duration, it is important to change your habits and make sleep a priority.
Addressing your hormone imbalances with BHRT and certain supplements can help if you are having trouble sleeping. When you improve your sleep routine, you can get your ghrelin and leptin levels back in balance. You will feel significantly better (and lose weight more easily) with a consistent sleep routine!