This blog post was a request and it is actually a really is a good one. I know you have probably heard a million times how important sleep is for you. I used to know this too, and would be like yeah, yeah, sleep is important, I know. But after actually going through some sleep issues (will discuss further below), I now understand!
How Not Getting Enough Sleep Causes Weight Gain
I wanted to cover this because basically having any issues with your sleep is going to affect your body physically, and that means your weight and fat storage.
When you consistently don’t get enough sleep (i.e. 7-8 hours per night) or enough quality sleep (i.e. waking up several times during the night, trouble falling asleep, trouble going back to sleep if you wake up), cortisol levels in your body rise. I know this sounds like it’s going to get technical but stay with me!
You will feel alert but will also feel like you can’t relax or slow down. You may start crashing in the afternoons. And you will most definitely continue having sleeping problems.
Constantly high levels of cortisol cause your body to store fat, especially around your stomach and hips.
Stage 1 or 2 Adrenal Fatigue
What I have described is commonly called “Stage 1 or 2 Adrenal Fatigue.” I know that sounds really serious and scary, but can happen from just being stressed / really busy, having trouble sleeping, overexerting your body through exercise, etc.
If you are struggling with fat storage around your stomach and hips, and you have any of these lifestyle factors, it could be due to high cortisol levels.
Stage 3 or 4 Adrenal Fatigue
If you don’t fix the issues I described above, your body will move into Stage 3 and then Stage 4 Adrenal Fatigue.
In these stages, because your adrenal glands have been producing so much cortisol, they crash. Your body doesn’t produce much cortisol and you feel completely exhausted. You don’t have trouble sleeping anymore. Instead you sleep for 10+ hours per night and are still constantly tired and can’t get out of bed. You also need to sleep during the day.
Your body will start shutting down and you will start sleeping more and more. I spoke to a woman who slept for 20 hours per day because her adrenal fatigue was so bad! You can die from stage 4 adrenal fatigue, but your body will do all it can to stay alive (i.e. making you sleep 20 hours per day).
OK so how to does stage 3 or 4 adrenal fatigue cause weight gain? I don’t know the exact mechanisms behind how it causes weight gain but I know that having any issues with your adrenal glands will also cause problems with your thyroid, and your reproductive hormones. All of these hormones are interlinked so having issues with one probably means you have issues with the others as well. All of the hormone imbalances cause the weight gain.
I had stage 3 or 4 adrenal fatigue and I’m still not fully recovered. For me, my face got really puffy, my nose got bigger, my eyes were really puffy, there were always bags under my eyes and I constantly looked tired. I also found it really hard to get rid of the excess fat and puffy look around my stomach and hips. These were also related to thyroid problems, but the puffy face happened mostly when my adrenal fatigue got worse.
OK so I feel like I have lectured you enough now about how important sleep is for you and how cortisol affects your weight!
Having a healthy sleep routine is SO important and can help prevent all of this. If you already experiencing these issues, these tips can help fix it (they did for me!). These are some of my suggestions on how to have a healthy sleep routine.
1. Go To Bed Before 10pm Every Night
I don’t want to get too technical talking about cortisol anymore. But basically your body has a natural cortisol spike at 11pm. High cortisol means difficultly sleeping. So it’s best to try and be asleep before 11pm so you aren’t kept awake by this spike.
2. Go To Bed And Wake Up At The Same Time Every Day
Being in a routine like this does wonders for your body and sleep routine! Once you are in a routine, it will be easier for you to fall asleep (great if this is your issue), and will also help you get up at the same time every morning.
If you get to sleep by 10.30pm, you should be able to wake up at 6.30am after 8 hours sleep.
3. Avoid Waking Up During The Night
I know this is a hard one but try to do all you can to avoid waking up in the middle of the night. Here are a few tips!
- Don’t drink too much water 2 hours before bed, otherwise you might need to go to the toilet in the middle of the night;
- Wear earplugs if you are a light sleeper and there is noise that affects your sleep (i.e. from other people, neighbours, traffic, etc);
- Make your room completely black. If this is not possible, wear an eye mask to bed;
- If you sleep with someone who is a restless sleeper (like my husband!), get one of those mattresses that don’t move much when the other person moves or gets in and of bed. If that’s not an option, put your mattress on the floor. It seriously makes such a difference! We do this at all our Airbnb’s lol :)
4. Avoid Bright Lights 1 Hour Before Bed
I know you’ve probably heard this one before, but haven’t really understood why. Your body should produce melatonin at night time before bed, which helps you fall asleep. Lights (i.e. from the TV, phone, computer, lights) prevent the production of melatonin. If your body doesn’t produce melatonin you might find it more difficult to fall asleep.
Try to avoid any bright lights 1 hour before bed. If you do watch TV or something on your laptop, turn off any lights in the house and reduce the brightness on your screen.
5. Sleep Supplements
You shouldn’t need to take sleep supplements all the time, but if you’re having sleep troubles, they will help so much! Here are some good supplements that you can try.
Bioceuticals Ultra Muscleze Night
You can only get this if it is prescribed by a doctor or naturopath, but it is honestly so good. When my naturopath first told me to take it, I was really sceptical because nothing had really helped my sleep before. I took this (it’s a powder that you mix with water) 30 minutes before bed and I slept like a log. Seriously I didn’t wake up once and I usually wake up several times per night.
It has sour cherry in it which supposedly helps your body produce melatonin. It also includes magnesium which is great for sleep too.
If you can’t get the Muscleze, I would recommend getting a magnesium supplement. It will help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and also helps lower cortisol.
You may also be able to find a natural sour cherry supplement!
GABA By Now Foods
My naturopath suggested this to me. Apparently it takes 3 days to work properly so might take a while before you notice a difference.
Admittedly I don’t take this all the time, but I do if I’m having trouble sleeping, and I also start taking it a few days before travel (if I’m changing time zones).
I don’t notice as much difference with this as I do with the Muscleze, but I’m sure it helps.
Melatonin will help you sleep but there’s a bit of controversy as to whether or not it’s safe to take as a supplement. In the US you can buy it in pharmacies, but in Australia you can’t buy it over the counter.
I would take Muscleze first as the sour cherry will help you body produce melatonin naturally, and keep the melatonin supplement as a last resort.
If you have ANY questions at all about adrenal fatigue or sleep, please feel free to ask! And if you have any other sleep tips, I would LOVE to hear them so please share :) xx