Sleep and how it affects digestion… Sleep

Sleep and Digestion…

Over the past few weeks we learnt that sleep is pretty important for a variety of reasons (apart from looking more human and less panda like!) This week we look at its impact on our digestion!

We know that eating too much will lead to weight gain. We know that not exercising enough will lead to weight gain. But what about lack of sleep? Well the answer is yes, it too can lead to become overweight or obese.

Sleep and Hormones

There are two main hormones that control our feelings of hunger and fullness: Leptin and Ghrelin. In very simplified terms, Leptin tells our brain that we’ve eaten enough, Ghrelin (I always think of a hungry gremlin!) tells you to eat. When you don’t sleep enough, your brain reduces the amount of leptin (fullness) released, and increases the amount of ghrelin (hunger) released. Result? Lack of sleep creates a sense of hunger, making you eat more and leading to weight gain. (As a side note, this may be a reason we tend to snack more at night). The other annoying thing is that lack of sleep will also make you tired, and so you may feel too tired to exercise, so not only are you eating more than you should, but you’re also exercising less. Not a great combination.

Sleep and Insulin

Sleep also has an effect on insulin release. Insulin is a hormone that helps control your blood sugar level. When you eat, your blood sugar goes up. This triggers the release of insulin, which helps the sugar in your blood get into your cells for storage (for energy use at a later time). This is not a bad thing of course, we need insulin to ensure we do not have high levels of blood sugar. However, when we are sleep deprived, our body is told to release higher levels of insulin than it really should. This means you get more sugar put into storage (which usually we don’t end up using, so it’s just stored as fat) and hence we can put on weight and end up at a greater risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

So all in all, our digestive system (as well as our long term health and aesthetics!) would definitely benefit from some decent zzzzzz. So my plan tonight? Early to bed after my nightly herbal tea!


To read more on this subject and some of Anne Lise’ previous blogs go here.




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