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Sleep & Hormones – Pt.1

January 15, 2014

Hey there, this is part one of a few posts that will follow about why sleep is so important to us humans. Especially when we want to make improvements in the gym, weight loss or just feel better mentally.

I will do my best writing all of this, not making it too complex with fancy words as there is no fun in just  trying to understand a wall of text.

First of all, our nervous system can be divided into:

  • Sympathetic – aiding in the control of most internal organs of the body, priming our bodies for action such as when we enter – Fight or flight mode enabling you to do actions with quick responses.
  • Parasympathetic – This division functions with responses that do not require immediate action, such as salivation and digestion.
  • Enteric – One of the tasks is to take care of coordination of reflexes therefore often called ‘the second brain’.

Hormone secretion can be altered depending on what division of the nervous system is activated for periods of time, like during our sleep. If you all of a sudden cut your sleep from 7-8 hours down to 4-6 hours per night for a few nights in a row just because ‘rest is for the wicked’.

First out is our hormone Leptin which is released from our fat cells and work as an appetite suppressant. This hormone is highly sensitive to sleep restriction and the levels will rapidly decrease when our time cuddling the pillow decreases, this results in;

  • Sleep loss creates a hunger that is excessive to the actual caloric needs to the hours we have been awake – to be weight stable.
  • 4 hours of sleep for 6 days decreased the levels of Leptin to the same low levels as if you would only eat 900 Calories per day – This will signal a state of starvation to the brain.
  • Leptin also regulates our metabolism and low levels of it will bring our metabolism down – making it easier to gain weight.
  • Regulating the metabolism, following a diet too low in calories will significantly decrease the levels of this hormone too.

If you follow a low carbohydrate diet for long periods of time, an increase of carbohydrates can actually help you loose weight if you experience a fat loss plateau by increasing the levels of Leptin thus increasing metabolism a bit.


In the next post we will touch on the hormone Ghrelin and how it works together with Leptin!





From → Nutrition

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