Because my role as part of the Bodyofeve.com duo is based on experience and not expertise, I’m always excited when I read a great article or find a credible resource when it comes to my climb up “Mount Hormones.” Today, the Huffington Post featured an article by Kristin Kirkpatrick, a dietitian who serves as the manger of wellness services at Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.
The entire article is full of information that resonates with most women headed into or have officially hit their “40 somethings.” I especially appreciate the section where she talks about sleep and hormones—very relevant since this month “hormones” is the theme of all of our posts. We will be covering sleep specifically later in the year, but I need a constant reminder about how sleep affects your hormones and ultimately your body weight and mood.
Here is what Kirkpatrick has to say about sleep and hormones:
When the demands of work (both in and out of the home — yes, BOTH are work) and children take center stage, sleep can often times take a back seat to other responsibilities. That means if you’re working out like a mouse on a wheel and eating like a bird yet still can’t seem to lose the weight, it may have something to do with the fact that you’re not getting enough Zzzzs.
A 2012 study found that a “lack of sleep increases the stimulus to consume more food and increases appetite-regulating hormones,” making it more difficult to lose weight, despite efforts surrounding food and physical activity. The study went on to explain that total sleep, as well as quality of sleep, was a larger determinant of weight loss success than other factors. Another study found similar results. Getting less than six hours of sleep a night reduced hormones capability to regulate energy balance. That means that the hormone that tells you to eat (Ghrelin) doesn’t turn off and the one that tells you to stop eating (Leptin) never turns on. A duel disaster in terms of keeping weight in check. You’re also more likely to want s’mores in place of spinach. If you want to keep your weight within a normal range, you’re going to have to make sleep a priority. Don’t downplay it with an attitude that you can subsist on four hours a night. Eventually, it will catch up.
I remember back to my college years when I functioned (somehow) on 4 hours of sleep. Or, sometimes I would not sleep at all and take a little nap in the afternoon (if I had time). I thought I was so cool doing it all—straight A’s, three jobs, a boyfriend, exercise, social time with friends. When people would say something to me about not sleeping enough I’d promptly reply, “Hey, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” I thought I was some superhero trapped in my college student body. Now I realize how stupid I was, yet carried the lack of sleep habit with me well into. . .last year. Between trying to be a superhero wife, mother and entrepreneur, I slept very few hours. My typical schedule went like this:
- Bedtime between 2-3 am
- Wake up as late as possible, but usually no later than 7:30 am
- Kids to school, off to work
- Pick up kids at 3 pm
- Wife and mom duty
- 10 pm exercise (if possible)
- Start a second “workday” no later that 11:15 pm
During this time, people always marveled at me for getting so much done. People who were close to the “inside life of Steph” knew that I was constantly struggling with my health, my weight and my ability to cope behind the scenes. I had to make a change. And, I’m still changing. But, years of abusing yourself—especially when you deprive your body of sleep—is hard to overcome. I sold my business last August and ever since have focused on myself. I still maintain a thriving consultancy practice, but I don’t stay up all night working anymore. I rarely get less than 8 hours of sleep most nights. My weight has “ticked down” slowly. What is really nice is that I rarely have anyone tell me (in so many words) that I look like crap. Getting a good night’s sleeps is reflected in my skin, my hair, my stomach and in my mood.
So, as you work towards getting your hormones balanced—think beyond food and other solutions. Get some sleep!!!
To read Kirkpatrick’s entire article, go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-kirkpatrick-ms-rd-ld/middle-age-weight_b_5456385.html