You’ve had a healthy and filling breakfast, a satisfying lunch, and yet…3 o’clock rolls around and all you can think of is the donuts in the breakroom. After a dinner that you know has met all of your caloric and nutritional needs, you still can’t stop eyeing the freezer and thinking about the ice cream behind the door.
If this all sounds familiar, your problem may not be lack of willpower. It may be lack of sleep.
Losing sleep is a surefire way to sabotage your health at every level. Of course, that should come as no surprise if you’ve been with me for a while. I talk a lot about the importance of sleep.
In fact, I believe sleep is so critical to your overall wellbeing that I put together a complete, step-by-step protocol that will help you get to the root of any sleep disturbances you might be experiencing, without dangerous so-called sleep “aides.” You can learn more about my Perfect Sleep Protocol or enroll right now by clicking here. It’s truly one of the most important steps you can take on your journey to optimal health — no matter what other issues you may be facing.
But, I digress…
Not only is ample, high-quality sleep essential for energy levels and overall functioning, it’s also linked to memory and brain function, immunity, and more — including weight management.
I’ve told you before that just one night of sleep loss can cause DNA-level changes in your body that lead to inflammation, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. And as you know, all of those are big contributors to obesity.
In addition, lack of sleep causes exhaustion…which makes it harder to get moving (and burn calories) throughout the day.
And a recent study sheds light on how lack of sleep contributes to obesity in another way — by driving you toward unhealthy food choices.
Put those three together — a sluggish metabolism, inability to get off the couch, and insatiable junk food cravings — and you have the perfect recipe for weight gain.
According to this study, not getting enough sleep changes brain chemicals in a way that makes it impossible to resist snacking, even if you’re not hungry. The source of the trouble, the researchers found, is a specific region of the brain that gets impaired after a sleepless night. That region of the brain is responsible for controlling appetite and regulating food intake. And without sleep, it goes haywire.
In a randomized, crossover study, the researchers compared how people’s food choices changed after four nights of normal sleep (8.5 hours) and after four nights of only 4.5 hours of shuteye each night.
On the fourth night of each stage, participants were offered a selection of unhealthy snacks. Those who had slept enough weren’t swayed. But those who were functioning on only a few hours of sleep? They felt the pull. In fact, they ate an average of 300 calories of snacks — even though they had eaten big meals just two hours earlier.
The blame falls on a compound called endocannabinoid 2-AG. This chemical is responsible for the pleasure we get from food — especially sweet or salty, high-fat food. And when we’re short on sleep, we produce higher amounts.
The timing of endocannabinoid 2-AG production also changes depending on sleep patterns. In this study, the researchers found that people who were getting enough sleep had endocannabinoid 2-AG levels increase in the morning, peak around midday, and fall as the day progressed.
In those who were sleep-deprived, however, morning levels rose 33 percent higher, peaked at 2 p.m., and stayed elevated until 9.
So those afternoon and evening “snack attacks” make a lot of sense.
This isn’t the first time endocannabinoids have been linked to appetite. Past studies have shown they’re involved in food-seeking behaviors and hunger regulation. All of which makes sense considering research has shown the amount of endocannabinoids produced is inversely correlated with the amount of leptin in the blood. They’re also linked to pain sensation, mood, and memory. And now we know they’re greatly affected by sleep.
We are really only starting to touch the tip of the iceberg when looking at endocannabinoids and how they relate to health. Yet another thing we have deprived ourselves of knowing because of the laws surrounding their most commonly known cousin — pot.
I think with the legalization of marijuana in many places across the country, we are going to see a lot more work like this. It is already all over the alternative medical community with CBD oil being sold routinely. I am looking forward to studying exactly what this substance can do for us.
In the meantime, science is desperately trying to figure out how to make people thin — or, to be more precise, how to make money off making people thin. I have been giving you this information for free for years, and I’ll continue to do it. You get all the detailed advice you need here in the Reality Health Check, in my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter, and, of course, in specialized programs like my Perfect Sleep Protocol.
But, in a nutshell, the keys to successful weight management are a healthy, low-sugar diet, consistent exercise, and, as this study proves again, a good night’s sleep.