Can Poor Sleep Affect My Hormones and Weight Loss?

Tossing and turning instead of sleeping can affect more than just your mood. As it turns out, getting poor sleep can disrupt hormone functions that affect hunger signals, metabolism and response to stress. This can make weight loss more challenging.

Let’s look specifically at how improving sleep can help maintain a healthy weight, and see how osteopathic medicine can help.

Sleep and Hunger Hormones Affecting Weight Loss

When we don’t get enough sleep, it can disrupt the balance of hunger hormones in our body. Sleep deprivation can lead to increased levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite, and decreased levels of leptin, a hormone that signals feelings of fullness. This hormonal imbalance can result in increased hunger, cravings and tendency to overeat, making weight management more challenging.  

Sleep and Metabolism For Weight Loss

Several studies have shown an association between decreased quality and duration of sleep and increased weight gain. Good sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy metabolism. Sleep deprivation can negatively affect our body’s ability to regulate glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Insulin and glucose metabolism can impact not only weight management, but levels of inflammation and pain in the body. Increased pain can then lead to worse sleep, and affect metabolism even further.

Increased Stress Slows Weight Loss

Poor sleep can lead to elevated stress levels during the day, which can further worsen sleep and slow weight loss. It’s a vicious cycle. When we are sleep-deprived and stressed, not only can we make worse food choices, but we also have increased irritability and mood problems, and our body produces higher levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone associated with increased appetite and fat storage. Cortisol levels can also impact regulation of insulin, a hormone that controls glucose metabolism and fat storage, as we discussed above. Excess cortisol levels can actually counteract the effects of insulin in the body, and lead eventually to a state of insulin resistance.

Memory Issues and Sleep

Attaining adequate sleep may decrease risk for neurodegeneration and cognitive disorders.  Researchers have shown that increased neurological activity from decreased sleep can result in an increase in levels of tau protein and amyloid beta. Tau protein in particular has been implicated in neurodegeneration because of it can develop into neurofibrillary tangles, associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegnerative diseases. 

Sleep and Physical Activity Affecting Weight Loss

Getting regular physical activity can assist with not only metabolism regulation, but also improved sleep quality. Moderate aerobic exercise can increase the amount of slow-wave sleep, which is the deep sleep during which both the brain and body muscles and tissues have a chance to rejuvenate. When we are well-rested, we have more energy and motivation to engage in exercise, which can aid in weight loss and maintenance.

Home Tips for Better Sleep

  • Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Set a regular sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends.
  • Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment: Make your bedroom comfortable, quiet, and dark. Remove electronic devices and minimize external distractions.
  • Practice Relaxation Techniques: Prioritize relaxation before bed. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, or gentle stretching can help calm the mind and prepare for sleep.
  • Limit Stimulants and Electronic Devices: Avoid caffeine after noon and electronic devices within 2-4 hours of bedtime, as they can interfere with sleep quality.
  • Maintain a Healthy Diet: Focus on a balanced diet rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Limit processed foods and sugary snacks.
  • Stay Active: Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
  • Manage Stress: Practice stress management techniques such as yoga, mindfulness, or talking to a trusted friend or family member.

How Osteopathy Can Improve Sleep

  • Soft Tissue Manipulation is a technique which involves gentle pressure applied to the muscles and soft tissues. This can release tension, improve circulation, and promote relaxation.
  • Myofascial Release is a technique which targets the fascia, a connective tissue that surrounds and supports muscles, bones, and organs. By applying gentle pressure and stretching to release restrictions in the fascia, it can alleviate muscle tension and promote relaxation.
  • Craniosacral Osteopathy is a technique that focuses on the the movement cranial and sacral bones and flow of cerebrospinal fluid.  By optimizing aligment of the craniosacral system, it can restore the natural rhythm of cerebrospinal fluid and tissues, and promote optimal health and relaxation.
  • Lymphatic Drainage involves gentle rhythmic movements and pressure applied to specific areas to stimulate the lymphatic system. By promoting lymphatic flow and reducing congestion, this form of osteopathy can help eliminate toxins, reduce swelling, and enhance tissue relaxation.
  • Counterstrain Technique involves finding tender points in the body and positioning the affected area into a position of comfort. By holding this position, muscle and tissue tension is reduced.

These osteopathic techniques promote not only optimal motion of bones, fluid and tissues of the body, but also overall relaxation, which can enhance your sleep.

Because sleep impacts health down to the tiniest hormones, receptors and proteins in our bodies, a good night’s sleep is not just a break from the world; it is vital to overall wellness and even maintaining a healthy weight.

If interested in learning more about craniosacral and integrative therapy options to improve your sleep and even weight management, visit my website.