How Sleep Affects your Metabolism

Complex hormonal and metabolic processes make up Sleep, therefore playing an important role in metabolism. Research shows in particular a clear connection between sleep, obesity and diabetes

Why do we need Sleep?

Everything our bodies do, serves a purpose. Sleep is indeed no less important to us than other processes in our body. It is an essential part of life, serving as a support and repair mechanism for our memory, growth, issue repair and more.

The need for sleep in adults differs from person to person, research is collectively pointing towards the need for a minimum of 6-7 hours of sleep per night. 

The Consequence on Nutritional Decision Making of the Sleepy Brain 

Poor sleep leaves your brain in a drunk like state and sets you up for some bad decision making. This tired/drunk state affects the area of your brain responsible for controlling your impulses. This overtired state, results in lower impulse control and higher rewards for those things that feel good. You are therefore more than likely to say yes to that second (or third) slice of cake.

It’s all in the Research…

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when tired, you’re likely to have late-night, high carb snacks.

The University of Chicago investigated fat consumption in sleep-deprived versus well rested participants. They found that when tired, you are more likely to double your fat consumption. For those who slept less than 6 hours, they ate larger meal portions, therefore a higher calorie intake and so, more calories stored as fat.

This in depth study simulated a restricted-sleep schedule based on an average [American] work week. The study included a review of the biochemical implications of sleep deprivation on the metabolism. One of these implications was reduced satiety after a meal. Additionally, lipid (fat) metabolism was also found to be compromised.

Tips to Improve your Sleep 

To optimize your health and metabolism, you really must make sure you are getting enough zzzz’s!

Here is a breakdown of some tips. Read here to find the full 17 evidence based methods to help you fall asleep better.

  • Increase your exposure to natural day light – Sunlight has been found to improve sleep quality and duration.
  • Avoid alcohol before bed – Alcohol can reduce melatonin production therefore disrupting sleep patterns.
  • Reduce blue light exposure in the evenings – Screens project blue light. This light tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime.
  • Avoid caffeine at night – Caffeine will keep you alert, but you don’t want to spill this effect over to bedtime.
  • Set the temperature in your bedroom – For most people 20°C (70°F), is the optimum bedroom temperature for sleeping.
  • Avoid long midday naps – by napping for long periods of time, you will disrupt night time sleep. Try to keep your naps short and earlier in the day.
  • Eat dinner early – Consuming a large meal near bedtime can disrupt hormone levels having an impact of your tiredness.
  • Exercise – Regular exercise (earlier in the day) is one of the best ways to ensure keep your metabolism going and improve sleep.

In Summary

The verdict is out – research has unanimously concluded that a deficiency of good sleep has a huge impact on your mental and physical well-being. Continued exhaustion will only lead you in a downward spiral where you will make less wise nutritional choices, store fat easier and make it harder to burn, and put you at risk of metabolic related diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

About Nathan Dolton

Nathan is a fitness enthusiast and holds a BSc in Sports, Fitness and Coaching. Having participated in 2 IRONMAN competitions and ran 3 marathons, he is at the top of his game. His main interests are in the long term metabolic changes of the body for endurance athletes. He works as a personal trainer and is a keen blogger who is passionate about taking his knowledge and making it accessible to all. He believes in a well rounded approach to a healthy lifestyle of the body and mind.

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