Stress and Poor Sleep Affects Your Weight
Sleepless nights. Being unable to turn your brain off. Hard time falling asleep. Falling asleep but waking every two hours and watching the clock. Disordered sleep is almost universal for people dealing with intense divorce stress.
Poor sleep affects decision making and when divorcing, you need to make the best decisions you can. Yes, stress affects sleep. But lack of quality sleep is also responsible for increasing mental and physical stress. Dealing with your stress is critical but often easier said than done. New issues seem to arise daily when undergoing divorce, especially when divorcing a narcissist or high conflict personality partner.
Our bodies have interconnected feedback loops. Things that disrupt one part of our system affect all the others. To give your self the best out come in divorce you must control what you can control. You can create and control habits around sleep, meals, and exercise.
4 Ways Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain
1. Increased Levels of Cortisol
When it comes to sleep deprivation and weight gain, cortisol may be a primary culprit. Cortisol and sleep have shown to have an inverse relationship – when sleep is low, cortisol levels may be high. Elevated cortisol levels can increase appetite and exploit unhealthy food choices.
2. Imbalanced Hunger Hormones
Inadequate sleep can cause the hunger hormones to go haywire. Also known as leptin and ghrelin, leptin helps to signal satiety while ghrelin signals a hunger response. When tired, leptin levels may reduce while ghrelin levels may rise, ultimately reducing the feeling of fullness and stimulating ravenous cravings.
3. Reduced Metabolism
Metabolism is the totality of all chemical reactions in the body that uses and burns energy (or calories) as fuel – a slow metabolism may cause weight gain while a fast metabolism may facilitate weight loss. Though there are many factors that dictate metabolism’s speed, sleep is one of them. Sleep deprivation can slow down metabolism and eventually cause weight gain if sleep is consistently inadequate.
4. Lessened Energy
When the body is tired, numerous daily functions may be compromised. That daily workout more than likely seems daunting with reduced energy levels. And preparing and cooking a nutritious meal? Running through a quick, convenient drive thru or ordering takeout probably may seem like best alternative at the time. The combination of reduced workouts and healthful meals can ignite calorie accumulation and contribute weight gain.
With good practices, sleep and weight loss can occur. But if you find yourself unable to sleep, these tips can avoid the phenomenon on sleep deprivation and weight gain:
Limit Caffeine Intake
That afternoon caffeine “pick-me-up” can ultimately impede on sleep cycles. Try limiting caffeine intake to morning hours and reduce the intake of hidden caffeine sources including chocolate.
Avoid Large Portions Before Bedtime
Try to consume dinners at least four to five hours prior to bedtime. Doing so can facilitate efficient food breakdown and reduce unpleasant indigestion symptoms when lying down.
Reach for Water
Thirst is oftentimes mistaken for hunger. So instead of reaching for food when bored or wanting to snack, pour yourself a glass of water. Additionally, a warm cup of decaffeinated tea can initiate a soothing, relaxing sensation and cultivate a resting environment. Just be sure to not drink too much late in the evening, as you want to avoid bathroom wakeup calls throughout the night.
Be Mindful of Alcohol
Lots of people reach for wine or other alcoholic drink to unwind after a stressful day. The issue is that for women, any more than one drink ends up adversely affecting your sleep. For men, the same goes for any more than two drinks. The alcohol affects blood sugar levels, causing them to dip which wakes you up from sleep and makes it hard to fall back to sleep especially when your mind gets going.
Resetting a Dysregulated Stress Response
Acute stress is something that is natural for our bodies. After an acute stress, the body calms itself. The problem is that the process of divorce takes time, and the stress can be on-going. It could be months or even years and if your body is not able to get into the recovery phase after your fight or flight response, you just remain in fight or flight.
You must create boundaries around your sleep self-care. I read recently that the average adult checks her cell phone 46 times per day. With that much checking, there is always something pressing to attend to. Set a time, maybe 8 or 9 pm where your phone is off limits. Do not check emails. Rather read a book, take a bath, something relaxing. Those activities may not be realistic as you may have hours of chores left to do in your day, and if that’s the case attend to them. Preparing meals for tomorrow, cleaning the kitchen, helping kids with homework, the care and walking of pets. These are all important and necessary but even more so, you can do these tasks and complete them. They do not remain undone or partially undone. When you finish tasks to completion it helps set you up mentally for rest and renewal. When you constantly respond to emails and texts, especially when dealing with negative people, you set up the opposite of rest and renewal.