Not Losing Weight? Lack of Quality Sleep Could Be to Blame
By Leah Kleinschrodt, MS, RD, LD
August 27, 2019
In this five-part blog series, our nutritionists are explaining five causes of stalled weight loss and tips on how to combat these issues. For more in-depth information, and even more surprising culprits, join us in our next Nutrition 4 Weight Loss series, starting the week of January 13, 2020.
Chances are if weight loss is one of your health goals, you’re thinking food and exercise are your keys to success. And while those are important, actually let me correct that to say food in particular is crucial, there are a lot of other factors that may be stalling your weight loss. One of those culprits is sleep.
As a new mom, I have experienced first-hand the significant toll that lack of sleep can take on your overall health, including weight loss efforts. While I couldn’t love my son more, I do not love the nightly interruptions to my sleep. Within days of his birth, I felt the effects lack of sleep can bring: daytime fatigue, brain fog, carb and sugar cravings, and spikes in anxiety all hit me like a ton of bricks. What I also realized is that some of my clients have experienced these feelings for years, or even DECADES, before coming to our offices! While these feelings may be common, that doesn’t mean they are normal.
How Sleep Slows Metabolism
Lack of sleep makes it harder for our bodies to manage glucose, which leads to sugar cravings, a slowed metabolism, and weight gain (especially in the abdominal area).
Indicators of a Sleep Issue
- Consistently sleeping less than 7.5 hours per night
- Trouble falling asleep, feeling “tired but wired,” brain chatter/worrying
- Using electronic devices within an hour before bed
- Waking multiple times per night to use the restroom, or due to worrying, night sweats/hot flashes
- Trouble falling back to sleep after waking in the night
- Not feeling rested/restored/replenished in the morning
- Snoring (noted by self or partner or other family members) or diagnosed sleep apnea
- Intense sugar and processed carb cravings during the day, or times of overeating/bingeing on these foods during the day
- Insulin resistance, prediabetes, diabetes
- Elevated triglycerides and cholesterol levels
- Weight gain/trouble losing weight (for instance 5-15 pounds coming on slowly each year)
- Atypical work hours, especially shift workers
- On sleep medications, or depression/anxiety medication
There is much we can do with nutrition to support and even solve your sleep issues, which will also help to heal your metabolism (plus many of those indicators above!). Here are just a sampling of the ideas we share in Nutrition 4 Weight Loss:
- Incorporate a small snack before bed that includes a real-food carbohydrate and a healthy fat source. The carbohydrate + fat combo keep our brain calm and fueled during the night, and also keep our blood sugar from dipping too low. Low blood sugar during the night causes a stress response in our body and brain, waking us up and causing worrying, night sweats and hunger. A great example of a bedtime snack would be a few apple slices and 2 Tbsp of natural peanut butter or berries with whipped cream.
- Remove caffeine and blood sugar aggravators from the diet, for sure before bed, but ideally during the rest of the day also. These aggravators typically look like a glass of wine/bottle of beer in the evening, that afternoon mocha when you hit your wall at 3:00PM, or a refined carbohydrate food like a bowl of popcorn or ice cream after dinner while watching your favorite show. As alluded to above, blood sugar spikes and dips, especially in the evening, cause a stress response in the body and make it more difficult to feel calm and ready to crawl into bed.
- Look for potential mineral deficiencies and helpful supplements to support healthy sleep patterns. My favorite go-to sleep supplement is magnesium, specifically Magnesium Glycinate. Magnesium is our major relaxing mineral, which means it can help with sleep, muscle cramps, high blood sugar, anxiety, and much more. About ¾ of the population is deficient in magnesium, so incorporating about 400mg of magnesium at bedtime into your routine is a safe bet for most people.
To learn more tips and tricks for better sleep to unlock better weight loss – more supplement ideas, tips just for menopause sleep and more – join us for the next round of Nutrition 4 Weight Loss starting the week of January 13, 2020 all over the Twin Cities. Our online Nutrition 4 Weight Loss series is always a convenient option too.
Plus, Nutrition 4 Weight Loss (both in-person and online) comes with private one-on-one nutrition consultations to find an individual plan that works for you.
Here’s to sweet dreams and health goals achieved. We hope to see you soon!