For too many, sleep is still not set as a priority.
Although knowing that we feel not at our best the following day, the desire to stay up longer browsing through social media channels or keeping our eyes peeled on the television screen has been a more time-consuming strategy seen as a way to relax, reset, and reinvigorate.
Part of the processes connected to getting a good night’s sleep is how our body can use excess fat storage as a means of energy. While our stomach is not actively digesting food, and thus less blood is flowing towards this region of our GI tract, our brain is working overtime. Aiming for a good 7 to 9 hours of sleep, we are not really aware of the number of calories used to sort, clean and process what has happened the day before.
After all, on average, we do not eat or drink during these hours, however, our internal biomechanics continuously keep us alive. This requires energy.
A plethora of new studies has shown that there is a strong correlation between hunger and sleep and in particular those hormones stimulating hunger and satiety levels. As with all our bodily functions, signals and triggers, our brain is the central command. We may feel our stomach or intestines growling, but in fact, it is our brain receiving hormonal signals of what’s happening and what needs to be done.
A lack of sleep (and this depends from person to person but a good 7 to 9 hours is on average the duration to aim for) is a major contributor to the main hormones regulating hunger and satiety. On the one side, Ghrelin is the hormone that is connected to hunger. Secreted from the fat cells, this chemical compound sends signals directly to the brain when we require food. When one sleeps less than needed, the secretion of Ghrelin is rising. As a result of this release, we are more prone to eat sugary treats and processed foods due to the signalling pathways.
These findings make perfect sense when we translate this to real-time experiences: midnight snacking is one of the main reasons why we do not focus too much on our slumber time. We do not go for a meal but more about what is left and what is easy.
On the flip side, Leptin (the hormone connected to satiety levels) is excreted less when we do not get enough sleep. This appetite-suppressing hormone works as a counter-balance, with Ghrelin on the other side of the hunger/full seesaw. We are less aware of how much we eat when we just don’t get enough shut-eye and we stare at the contents of our fridge.
Our personal fitness trainers and coaches at The Aspire Club do not only regularly ask about your sleep quality and quantity for tailoring your fitness programme but also connect it to your snacking habits. Through simple yet effective strategies for creating new habits, our clients have seen a shift in omitting the need for that midnight snack and paying attention to their sleep rhythms.
The regulation of hunger hormones through sleep has been one of the primary fields in our coaching strategies for all our clients, resulting in many success stories.