Chronic Stress, Sleep Issues, and the Weight Gain Connection
Are you struggling with weight issues? Or maybe you wonder why you gain pounds despite your best efforts? If you think following a restrictive diet and killing yourself in the gym are the only two ways to lose weight...you are wrong.
If you are chronically stressed and suffer from sleep issues, no amount of exercise and dieting will melt pounds.
How Stress and Sleep Influence Your Weight
Stress and Weight Gain
For decades, stress has been known to cause conditions like high BP1, heart disease2, and other disorders. But in the last few decades, there has been evidence linking stress to weight gain.
Increases Cortisol: Chronic stress increases the levels of cortisol, a hormone connected to your stress response. Cortisol is a fat-storing hormone and high levels of cortisol lead to an increase in fat storage3,4.
Alters HPA Axis: Stress alters the working of the HPA axis. The HPA axis is a delicate subsystem involving the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands of the body. When there is a disturbance in the homeostasis of the HPA axis, it leads to impaired glucose metabolism and reduces insulin sensitivity that can affect eating behaviors5.
Sleep and Weight Gain
It turns out that poor sleep habits can cause weight gain, memory loss, and poor cognitive abilities in the long run. A study found that losing as little as thirty minutes of sleep can promote weight gain6.
Alters Hunger: When you are sleep deprived it messes with the body’s hunger-regulating hormones. Studies show that levels of ghrelin, a hormone that promotes hunger, increases with poor sleep7,8. Levels of leptin in the body, a hormone that contributes to satiety and fullness in the stomach, also drop9. When these changes happen it directly influences food intake leading to overeating.
Low Insulin Sensitivity: Sleep deprivation can also affect the way your body uses glucose and lowers the efficiency of insulin. In turn, this increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. A study found that when allowed only four hours of sleep for six nights, the body’s ability to lower blood sugar dropped by 40%10.
How Can You Take Control?
Exercise: Adhering to a regular physical activity can help bring down the cortisol levels and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Take Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is an herb that is rich in withanolides, a type of chemical that fights inflammation and helps reduce cortisol levels. A randomized controlled trial (gold standard) found that Ashwagandha was effective and safe. Researchers found that it worked by improving and building one's resistance towards stress11.
Sleep Routine: Go to bed at the same time every day and avoid watching TV or using your cell phone. Try eating a light dinner at least an hour before going to bed. You can also get natural sleep support from a supplement, such as our Melatonin Gummies or our herbal Sleep formula made with melatonin12, magnesium, chamomile, passion flower, and valerian root.
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4. The glucocorticoid contribution to obesity, 2009 Sep;17(9):1678-83. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.76. Epub 2009 Mar 19
5. Stress and Eating Behaviors, 2013 Sep; 38(3): 255–267
6. Losing 30 minutes of sleep per day may promote weight gain, March 5th, 2015
7. Role of sleep duration in the regulation of glucose metabolism and appetite, 2010 Oct;24(5):687-702. doi: 10.1016/j.beem.2010.07.005
8. Metabolic consequences of sleep and sleep loss, 2008 Sep;9 Suppl 1:S23-8. doi: 10.1016/S1389-9457(08)70013-3
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10. Sleep loss: a novel risk factor for insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes, 01 NOV 2005
11. A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults, 2012 Jul-Sep; 34(3): 255–262
12. Melatonin: both master clock output and internal time-giver in the circadian clocks network, 2011 Dec;105(4-6):170-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jphysparis.2011.07.001. Epub 2011 Jul 19