Sleep is ‘innately tied’ to weight – get a good night’s sleep to lose weight, says expert

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Sleep is often hard to come by when there are hundreds of tasks to do in the day, but it might be worth taking a step back and ensuring you get a good night’s rest. Not only does sleep work wonders for the mind, it can also help you lose weight. How can you get a better night’s sleep?

An advocate for getting eight hours of quality sleep, Phil Lawlor is the resident sleep expert at specialists Dormeo.

He spoke to about the importance of sleep for a healthy body, and how it can help with weight loss.

Phil said: “Sleep is innately tied to your weight in a number of ways. For one, being sleep deprived can affect how hungry you feel through the day.

“A lack of rest can disrupt your hormonal balance, in particular the leptin — which signals to your brain that you’re full — and ghrelin — the hunger hormone.

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“When these two chemicals are out of sync thanks to poor sleep, you may suddenly find that you’re overeating, causing problems in the long-term if the issue is not addressed.

“Cortisol is the hormone that tells your body to conserve as much energy as possible to make sure it is fuelled and ready to go.

“However, too much of this chemical and you can end up storing fat as a reserve. Unfortunately, this hormone tends to spike when you’re missing out on sleep, which means your body can enter conservation mode and store more calories rather than burning it off.”

Phil added: “In addition, without a healthy level of sleep, your brain will get tired.

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“Studies have shown that those who are fatigued are prone to making poor food choices, with a preference for dishes that are high in carbs, fat, and sugar to deliver a quick — but not long lasting — energy boost.

“This might be the reason you find yourself craving a sugary latte or a fatty full English breakfast the morning after a broken night’s sleep.”

The sleep expert recommended adding more “sleep superfoods” to your diet to aid a good night’s sleep.

These foods include lettuce, pistachios, fish, yoghurt, and whole-wheat pasta.

Phil added that “fuelling up on caffeinated beverages too close to bedtime can make it harder to drift off as you’ll be more alert, while drinking alcohol has a nasty habit of limiting the amount of restful sleep your body needs”.

Health coach Dr Alka Patel also shared ways to drift to sleep more easily.

She recommended listening to “sleep inducing music”, saying: “Music can help reduce stress, so listening to soothing tunes or sounds before bedtime can help you relax.

“Try and avoid music that is over stimulating. Sounds of nature, such as the ocean, birds or rain may help you relax into a more restful mental space. Instrumental classical music is also a good choice.”

Dr Patel advised wearing a face mask when you sleep. She said: “According to the Great British Sleep Survey, 19 percent of those surveyed reported being disturbed by light levels before or during sleep.

“Light can have a huge impact on our sleep-wake cycle, so try and expose yourself to as much natural light as you can during the day and keep your room as dark as possible at night.”

For people who suffer badly with insomnia, sleep therapy might be a valuable option, according to Dr Patel.

She said: “Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has repeatedly been found to be the most effective intervention for poor sleep, regardless of age, gender or the severity of problem.

“Sleepio and CBT-i Coach are two CBT-based apps which have been linked to sleep improvements.”

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