Sleep Matters

Sleep Matters

Everyone knows that sleep is important, but did you know that it can impact your weight? 

If you’re trying to drop a few pounds, maybe you should think about your pillow.  While sleeping doesn’t take away the benefit of eating healthy and exercise, it does play a key role in the management of your body weight. 

Several long term studies have been conducted to look at the impact of sleep on your weight.  These studies found that inadequate sleep was associated with higher weight in children and adults.  In adults, studies found that sleep and the intake of sugar and caffeine were inversely related (the less you sleep, the more likely you are to reach for those donuts and coffee).  These studies also found that the less you sleep, the more likely you are to eat or snack at late night hours, and more likely to choose sweet or salty snacks.  These late night snacks can impact your metabolism and predispose you to weight gain.  

When looking at children and sleep habits (even when other factors including parental obesity, TV time, and physical activity are removed from the equation), children who don’t sleep enough are more likely to be obese.  Some factors that can impact your infant’s sleep include the introduction of solids before 4 months of age and infant TV viewing.  Childhood sleep habits may also have a long-term impact on adult weight.  One study showed that each hour reduction in sleep resulted in a 50% higher risk of obesity by early 30s in adulthood.  Early US trials are showing some positive impact on teaching new parents ways to develop good sleep and feeding habits in their newborn and the prevention of obesity during toddler years.  

Sleep is so important regardless of the lifestage, with more and more reasearch showing it’s impact on your weight throughout your life.


So how does your sleep actually impact your body weight?

  • Sleep alters hunger hormones.  The less sleep you get the higher those hunger hormones become and the lower your satiety hormones become.  This can cause you to crave fatty and carbohydrate rich foods.  It will also prevent you from being satisfied when you do eat enough.
  • You have more time to eat.  The more time you have to eat, the more likely you are going to consume more calories during your awake hours.
  • You’re more likely to snack more.  Less sleep is associated with more snacking.
  • You may make less healthy choices.  Studies are showing that those who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to eat out and have irregular meal patterns (hello drive through?).
  • Decreased physical activity.  How many of you feel like going to the gym when you are fighting to stay awake during the day?  Studies are showing people who don’t have enough sleep are more likely to watch TV instead of doing physical activity.  This will also allow you to pack on the pounds.  
  • Lower body temperature.  People who are sleep deprived tend to have a lower body temperature which results in a lower amount of calories your body needs. 

Ideal sleep should be between seven to eight hours a night for adults.  Recent research shows only about 26% of American adults are getting enough sleep at night.  How is your sleep?

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About the Author

Erin Gussler, MS RDN LD CLT

Growing up, Erin has always loved food (and could be found singing “fruit, fruit, fruit for the whole team” at baseball games).  When she started college, she realized her true calling was in the field of nutrition.  After a career in critical care nutrition, she is now using her passion and knowledge for integrative and functional nutrition to help you succeed in your wellness goals.  Nutrition should be more than just “another diet”, but about healing and wellness from the inside out.  Using personalized nutrition therapy, Erin will teach you to not only love food but to eat food (and enjoy food) that loves you back.

Erin received her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition Science at Texas A&M University, and she completed her dietetic internship through Meredith College.  She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as the Houston Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  She is also a member of several dietetic practice groups including Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine, Nutrition Entrepreneurs, and Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition.

Erin is committed to working with you to find balance in your life and to help demystify the world of nutrition.  Our goal at Whole Health Houston is to find the root causes of imbalance, and provide an individualized and custom wellness map.  Erin works closely with the doctors at Whole Health Houston to provide you with consistent care, evaluation, and on-going monitoring to help you succeed.  Let Erin walk alongside you and teach you to use food and nutrition to help you live your best life!

About the Author

Erin Gussler, MS RDN LD CLT

Erin is committed to working with you to find balance in your life and to help demystify the world of nutrition.  Our goal at Whole Health Houston is to find the root causes of imbalance, and provide an individualized and custom wellness map.  Erin works closely with the doctors at Whole Health Houston to provide you with consistent care, evaluation, and on-going monitoring to help you succeed.  Let Erin walk alongside you and teach you to use food and nutrition to help you live your best life!

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