Sleep and Weight: What’s the Connection?

By:Deedra Mason, ND  nutraMetrix® | Director of Clinical Education & Research

Do you ever wonder why doctors, health experts, and your mom are always bugging you about getting enough sleep? A good night’s rest is vital for health and well-being, but essential when it comes to weight control.  Healthy weight and sleep go hand in hand.

While many dieters buy into the idea that a healthy lifestyle is as easy as watching what you put into your mouth, it isn’t the whole story but it is a great start.  True well-being understands the importance of all “fat factors” including nutrient sufficiency and sleep.

Sleep maintains a balance of the appetite hormones ghrelin and leptin. When you do not get enough sleep, your levels of ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry, increase. Simultaneously, your levels of leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full, decreases. Therefore, you feel hungrier when you are not well rested, and even after eating, you may feel less satisfied.

One target you want to hit to make sure you are doing what is best for your sleep, your cravings and your healthy weight is optimizing your neurotransmitters.   Lack of sleep disrupts the balance of our feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin (2).  This may lead to increased cravings and fragment sleep.

The ability to make healthy levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for optimal mood & healthy weight, also quiets food cravings and assists you in the production of melatonin for better sleep quality.  Serotonin is dependent on your dietary, or supplement levels of Vitamin D3, Magnesium, Vitamin C and B-vitamins.  (2)

There are also amino acids like taurine, glycine, and tyrosine necessary to balance your dopamine levels in the body so you can relax when you need to for a better disposition and ready yourself for sleep (3).

This approach is not just good for the late night hours, but benefit you throughout the day as well.  A healthy balance of serotonin and dopamine can help you make good choices during your day-to-day activities.  With a balance in your mind, you are less likely to choose take out or other quick and easy food options.   Without a balance, you may decide to skip your workout or become less productive at work.

You have many choices in how you support your waking and sleep cycles.  It appears the right combination of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids do some of the heavy lifting for a day with robust energy and a peaceful deep sleep.

Resources

1- Endocr Rev. 2005 May;26(3):439-51. ; Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 2005; 113(9): 534-537

2- Bradley’s Neurology in Clinical Practice, 2-Volume Set / Edition 7 by Robert B. Daroff, Joseph Jankovic, John C Mazziotta, Scott L Pomeroy

3- Food Funct. 2015 Feb;6(2):383-93. doi: 10.1039/c4fo00758a.