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Sleep, Hormones and Weight Gain

By The Lucy Rose Clinic

June 3, 2020

Sleep is one factor that I always take into account when someone wants weight loss, along with diet, nutritional deficients, hormone function, and detoxification.

✤✤✤ Here are 3 quick questions to check if sleep is a potential issue for your weight:

  • Are you restless when you go to bed? Is your mind going over and over thoughts that keep you awake, do you toss and turn, or suffer with restless leg syndrome?
  • Does it take you more than 15 minutes to drop into sleep?
  • Do you wake several times through the night, specifically between 1:00 – 3:00am?

If you answer yes then this article is for you!

The Vital Stages of SLEEP

There are 5 stages of sleep, and you cycle through them 4 to 6 times every night.

If you are waking a few times throughout the night, you interrupt this cycle and may not be actually dropping into a deep sleep at all!

Stage 3 and 4 of our sleep cycle is where the hormones that aid appetite control and muscle growth are released. This is also the stage when the body is at it’s most restorative, so skipping this stage by interrupting the sleep cycle can have a big impact on your health.

How Sleep Affects HORMONES

Studies indicate that sleep loss shifts the hormonal balance from hormones that promote fullness (satiety), such as GLP-1, to those that promote hunger, such as ghrelin.

Sleep restriction also increased levels of endocannabinoids, which is known to have appetite-promoting effects. Further studies show that acute sleep loss alters the balance of gut bacteria, which has been widely implicated as key for maintaining a healthy metabolism.

Melatonin and Cortisol

Most people need between 7 and 9 hours each night of good quality sleep.

Too little sleep can trigger a cortisol spike at night and disrupts our nocturnal clock. This stress hormone signals your body to wake up. It is naturally at its highest peak 60 mins from waking in the morning, and declines through the day to the lowest point which should be just before bed.

It works in opposition to melatonin, a hormone that puts us to sleep. Therefore, cortisol will suppress melatonin, and melatonin will suppress cortisol – like a see-saw. If you have a spike of cortisol at night, your melatonin instantly drops, waking you up and making it very hard to drop back to sleep.

Factors that can trigger a cortisol spike at night are many, but here some we commonly see in the clinic:

  • Electronic devices used in bed – particularly ‘blue’ light devices such as mobiles, kindles and notebooks.
  • Coffee, tea or other caffeinated drinks late in the day or before bed.
  • Pain and discomfort in bed.
  • Fatty liver, functional issues with detoxification, high toxin load in the body.
  • Adrenal imbalances.
  • Blood sugar imbalances.
  • Eating high sugar foods and too large a meal too soon before bed.

✪ Some of these issues you can fix yourself, but if sleep still eludes you, then a functional screening and treatment approach can help you get to the core of the issue.

Growth Hormone and SLEEP

The pituitary gland secretes growth hormone (GH) where its highest output is in the first hour of sleep. Like waves on a beach, there will be smaller bursts of GH through the night. Therefore, the more you sleep, the more GH produced.

Once in the blood stream, GH stimulates the production of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). These two work favourably in our body, with GH involved in fat burning, and IGF-1 involved in muscle growth.

GH is suppressed when the body has elevated levels of Leptin and high blood sugar, so keeping these levels in check is one step involved when balancing your hormones with a functional medicine approach.

☎ Contact us if you are ready to work with one of my team to get your hormones back in balance!

When working with body in such a comprehensive way, you can’t guess what is happening between all the hormones. This is because many symptoms can cross over between endocrine functions, so basing treatment on symptoms alone is a bit like throwing a dart blind-folded. After being spun around in a circle 10 times.

That’s why we specialise in functional testing – this is a panel of pathology tests that are done with serum, saliva and urine samples to give you specific answers regarding your hormones, nutrient deficiencies or excesses, detoxification status, and methylation status.

By booking one of our complimentary phone calls you have a chance to talk directly with a trained practitioner about your situation, get any questions you might have about our process answered, and start on a pathway to better sleep.


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