Are you heavier than you used to be? It could be because you’re not sleeping enough. Research has shown that there is a real connection between sleep and weight loss. Find out how to get it under control so you can get your body back the way you want it!
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. You may stare at the ceiling for hours before drifting into a restless slumber or wake up after a couple of hours unable to go back to sleep. No matter the type of insomnia you suffer from, it can cause some serious weight gain if you don’t get it under control.
How Does Insomnia Cause Weight Gain?
- Reduced Leptin Levels – Leptin is the hormone your body produces to tell you that you’re full after a meal. Chronic sleep deprivation reduces these hormone levels, encouraging you to overeat.
- Increased Cortisol Levels – Cortisol is your stress hormone and one of the primary causes of weight gain in sleep-deprived individuals. Increased cortisol levels can make you feel hungry even after you’ve just eaten a meal.
- Reduced Growth Hormone – Growth hormone is a protein that helps you regulate the proportion of fat and muscle in your body. Chronic insomnia depletes this hormone and can lead to weight gain.
- Difficulty Metabolizing Carbohydrates – Another connection between loss of sleep and weight loss is your body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body stores fat and your blood sugar spikes, increasing your risk of diabetes.
- Loss of Energy – It goes without saying that if you’re not sleeping, you’re not going to have the energy to work out. Sure, you can manage to slog your way through work and remember to pick up the kids from daycare but you just can’t muster up the desire to pump iron or go jogging. After dinner, the couch just looks more attractive.
Treating Insomnia Naturally
A lot of men would rather suffer with their insomnia then become dependant on prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids. If you’re one of them, it’s understandable. Some of those things can make you sleepwalk and pass out during the day. If you want to treat your insomnia naturally, try these methods and herbs instead:
- Progressive Relaxation – If stress is one of the primary causes of your inability to sleep, try progressive relaxation. Lie on your back comfortably and close your eyes. Take a couple of slow deep breaths then squinch up all the muscles in your face. Hold for a few seconds and let go. Do the same with your neck, shoulders, back, etc. until you reach your toes. This will help you ease the tension in your body and help you relax naturally.
- Valerian Root – Valerian is a strong-smelling over-the-counter herb you can take about an hour before bedtime to help you sleep. It can ease feelings of stress and anxiety and help you stay asleep longer.
- Melatonin – Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone in your body that can become depleted as you age. Taking a low dose of melatonin before retiring can help regulate your sleep cycle and help you sleep more deeply.
- Chamomile – Chamomile is a natural herb that can be taken in capsule or tea form. It works similar to valerian root in that it helps your mind and body relax naturally so you can fall asleep and stay asleep during the night. Men allergic to flowers in the daisy family should avoid chamomile.
- Earplugs and a Sleep Mask – Some guys are just light sleepers. The dog, the clock, the next-door neighbors getting in late; all of it can contribute to your getting less-than-adequate sleep. The same goes for the light streaming in from the street or the flashing light from your partner’s favorite late-night TV show. Blocking out these distractions can help eliminate or reduce insomnia.
Important Note: Men on blood thinners should avoid using herbal sleep remedies, especially valerian root without first consulting their doctor.
Now that you know the sleep and weight loss connection, you can take steps to do something about it. If, after trying a few natural remedies, your insomnia still isn’t going away, you should visit your doctor. There could be a more serious problem such as sleep apnea causing your inability to sleep.
Chronic insomnia is no joke. Your body needs rest. Once you get your insomnia under control and sleep at least 7-8 solid hours each night, you can get your weight under control and start a workout plan to get you back into shape.
Can’t sleep? Read our Insomnia Guide for Men!