Can lack of sleep cause unwanted fat?

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Can lack of sleep cause unwanted fat?

“Man was made at the end of the weeks work, when God was tired” Mark Twain

Do you wake up feeling you’re almost as tired as you were when you went to bed?

Do you often swear to yourself you will have an early night tonight?

Scientific studies clearly demonstrate that ongoing sleep deprivation can significantly decrease glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivityleading to increased blood sugars which can be a symptom of pre-diabetes or type 2.

To add insult to injury lack of sufficient sleep increases likelihood of unwanted fat storage as well as interference with hunger hormone regulation resulting in more sensations of hunger and cravings the next day.

In our tired state we tend to go for refined carbs that give us quick energy. Unfortunately a regular pattern of this is also a quick route to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, inflammation to mention but a few unpleasant outputs.

If you have pre-diabetes or diabetes, poor sleep can also weaken your immune system leaving you open to infection and illness which in turn may play havoc with your blood sugars.

The bottom line is that if you’re sleepy during the day you are not getting enough sleep.

We’ve all been there at some stage and really there’s nothing worse than that feeling of exhaustion. Every little negative in our life is magnified and feels worse.

“The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep” Arianna Huffington

But some of us are permanently wrecked and we have allowed it to become the norm. We’ve even normalised it as a society; smoking is bad but being wrecked and sleep deprived is okay. Hello? From a health perspective there may not be as big a difference in these bad habits as we may like to think. Inadequate sleep plays havoc with our health and is especially a big contributor to T2D and heart disease.

And let’s face it, it’s way more difficult to make changes or create new healthy habits when your energy reserves are low.

The link to anxiety, low mood and low confidence starts to become a reality. Horribly, we look and feel older but this generally means that we are ageing on the inside too.

Sleep deprivation is associated with shorter telomeres which is significantly associated with a shorter health span. According to nobel prize winner Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn

“Poor quality sleep, sleep debt and sleep disorders are all linked to shorter telomeres. Telomeres need at least seven hours of sleep” 

Sleep really does underpin our health so it’s super-important to take it seriously and address it if it’s an issue. According to the The U.S. Heart, Blood and Lung Institute:

“The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others”    


So in case you need reasons for reconsidering your bed time here’s seven reasons why you need to assess your sleep patterns and 10 ways to master a better night’s sleep:

  1. To help normalise your blood sugar
  2. To help regulate your appetite
  3. To lengthen your telomeres to slow down ageing
  4. Decrease your risk of T2 diabetes or associated complications
  5. Restore and rejuvenate damaged cells
  6. Decrease risk of dementia & boost cognitive function
  7. Boost your immune system


We are such stuff as dreams are made on

 and our little life is rounded with a sleep

– Shakespeare


Here’s 10 tips to help you get that great night’s sleep:

  1. Reminder! Try not to have coffee after 2pm. If you are particularly sensitive to caffeine or if you are a slow coffee metaboliser cut tea and dark chocolate out also after 2pm as it can interfere with our melatonin production which is a sleep regulating hormone.
  2. Make sure you get an absolute minimum of half an hour of daylight during the day, ideally first thing in the morning and around mid-day.
  3. Avoid screens for two hours before sleeping and see what difference it makes. Blue light can suppress melatonin, your sleepy hormone. There is even a study that shows that reading an e-reader can significantly decrease your melatonin production when compared with reading a print book.
  4. Listen to some alpha wave inducing music in the evening which has a relaxing effect. Alternatively find some music that truly relaxes you and give it your exclusive attention.
  5. Have a warm bath or bathe your feet in warm water with lavender oil and /or magnesium salts. This has a relaxing effect and well as some positive health benefits from the magnesium.
  6. Keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet. If there is a tv, ideally get it out, but at least put some tape over the digital time display. Do the same with any other light distractions. If you must keep your phone in your room have it on airplane mode.
  7. Do a ten minute meditation or simply sit quietly before getting into bed. Having a wind-down time is very beneficial as opposed to transitioning from a busy evening and trying to get straight to sleep. A meditation or mindfulness session will benefit your health and blood sugars every bit as much as it will benefit your sleep. If you do yoga, some gentle forward bends are also relaxing and nurturing.
  8. If you have stressful thoughts from the day or fears about what’s coming the following day write them all down. Remind yourself that you are concerning yourself about both the past and the future and the now is what really matters. Do a ‘brain-dump’ on paper with the promise to yourself that you will address it tomorrow but you are leaving it aside for now. You really can trick your brain to comply.
  9. Have a relaxing tea such as chamomile or valerian. There are many different mixes, find one that you enjoy, make it part of your evening ritual and have it at a time that you can relax and enjoy it.
  10. Consistency is king. Have a fixed bed time for one month and stick to it no matter what. Start with a week and then the next. Review after a month and I dare say you won’t believe the difference. This is a great time of the year to address sleep issues, evenings are getting shorter, for many creatures hibernation begins. Start repaying that sleep debt and create a habit that your older self will hugely thank you for.

Sweet Dreams:)

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