Sleep Your Way to Skinny After 40

By Pauline A Delany

To many women, the idea that they can lose weight by getting more sleep sounds too simple to be true. But when you factor in the hormone factor, the idea takes on new light. By the age of 40, women are well aware of the impact that hormones can have on their physical and emotional well-being. Hormones are responsible for regulating the body’s functions, determining when you can reproduce, repair damaged tissue, and digest your food. Now it looks as though hormones related to sleep could also be the reason your attempts at losing weight aren’t working.

The Hormonal System of Appetite Control

Two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, work together to control appetite by making you feel hungry or full. Ghrelin, a hormone produced in the gastrointestinal tract, triggers your appetite, making you feel hungry. Leptin, a hormone produced in fat cells, lets you know when you are full. The production of these hormones is affected by the amount of sleep you get, with the amount of each that is produced being inversely proportional to the other. When one is produced in a higher quantity, less of the other is produced.images

When you don’t get enough sleep, leptin production decreases and ghrelin production is increased. That means that you find yourself with an increased appetite and nothing to make you feel satisfied after you eat. Even worse, this condition leads to cravings for high-carb foods that are also high in calories. These are the same kinds of foods that many women over 40 need to avoid to prevent gaining excess belly fat that is dangerous to their health.

The Solution

There are still questions about the way these hormones affect individuals, specifically why the reverse seems to be the case for those who have obstructive sleep apnea. The need to get more sleep is also problematic for many women who find that they are no longer able to fall asleep as quickly as they used to they are unable to stay asleep once they do. After 40, women may have night sweats that make it difficult to sleep as well.

Too often, women simply accept the difficulty they are having getting a good night’s rest as a symptom of ageing. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing frequent symptoms of insomnia, night sweats or if you have been told you snore. Rule out any health conditions that may be interfering with your ability to sleep and which may indirectly be causing you to experience weight gain. Also, ask your doctor about ways to improve sleep so that you get a higher quantity and a better quality. Although research has not yet proven the connection, many professionals believe that the quality of sleep you get also plays a role in leptin and ghrelin production.

Bringing it Together

Although getting enough sleep may have a significant impact on your ability to lose weight, it isn’t a one-step solution to weight loss. It is still important to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise and avoid empty calorie foods that add to weight gain while providing no nutritional value.

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