Health A-Z

Can better sleep give me a flatter belly?

Absolutely YES and here’s why:

First of all, your body’s circadian rhythm (your internal body clock) is a very precise and important system that’s in place to keep everything finely-tuned. Think of it like a Swiss watch – a finely tuned system of mechanics. The circadian clock helps keeps the body in a state of homeostasis (balance) on many levels. From hormones, to digestion – it’s all connected. If it gets misaligned, out of place, or unsteady, many negative outcomes can come to light, and a lot of this has to do with hormones. Leptin and ghrelin to be a little more specific. In other words, your hunger hormones.

 When a person is deprived of their needed sleep, their production of leptin (the hormone that tells the body that there is no need to eat anymore) can be impacted severely. In other words, no signals being put out to STOP eating means that a person is susceptible to overeating more frequently. When this happens, ghrelin (the hormone that tells the body to eat) can also be impacted as well. These hormones are in place to regulate the energy cycle. If they become impaired, bad things can happen – being overweight with a giant belly being a prime example. Basically, if all of these signals and communication cycles get mixed up, everything from an endocrine standpoint can snowball out of control and one’s health can be impacted pretty badly.

 Over the years, many studies have shed light on this topic, so it’s something we definitely like to talk about with people when trying to get their weight under control. It all stems back to getting the body in a balanced state so that it can communicate with all of the internal systems efficiently. Better interaction between these inner arrangements can most definitely set somebody on a path toward wellness. Now we bring all of this up because the circadian system relies on an efficient network of communication, sleep, and overall balance.

Without this needed stability, bad things (like becoming overweight) can start playing into the picture.

Tips for sleeping better:

  • Limit your sugar intake. By keeping your blood sugar more balanced, you will have a greater chance of getting your circadian rhythms in check.
  • Turn all the light off in your house and room before going to sleep. We recommend doing this because light can disrupt the production and utilization of melatonin, which in turn can keep a person awake for hours on end. More light means less sleep. This also means that you should get rid of those nightlights (if you have any). If you start becoming very aware of the light you’re exposed to before falling asleep, you can dramatically improve your chances of sleeping better.
  • Exercise. It has been proven that those who exercise on the regular typically sleep better.
  • Eat a high protein snack an hour or so before going to sleep. Doing this can actually help deliver what’s called “L-tryptophan,” something needed for your melatonin production. Melatonin is the body’s sleep hormone, a hormone that is also directly tied into gut function.
  • Experiment with small amounts of melatonin. You can buy melatonin supplements at most natural health food stores. Now keep in mind, melatonin is a hormone, so treat it as such. It’s never good to be dependent on supplements for anything, but if you have exhausted all other avenues, and you still can’t sleep, try investing in a high quality melatonin supplement. For those “hard to fall asleep” nights, we recommend it more than a prescription drug.
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