So you’ve tried everything, you know you eat healthy , exercise enough, do a mixture of weights and> cardio but for some reason the weight doesn’t shift. Wondering what more you can do? Well have a look at your sleep pattern – It could be making all the difference!

There is a large amount of research into the effects of sleep deprivation on weight gain. The main conclusions are that sleeping too little can make us put on weight over time – through increased calorie consumption and> decreased energy expenditure! There is a lot of science behind this but I’ll try and> make it simple.

A lack of sleep can cause disruption to certain hormone levels in the body, impacting on leptin and> ghrelin levels. Leptin is the satiety hormone, which regulates fat stores in the body – it does this by adjusting hunger and> energy expenditure levels. Lack of sleep has been linked to reduced leptin levels in the body, meaning we can feel more hungry through lack of sleep. Not only this but studies show that ghrelin levels may be increased through lack of sleep. Ghrelin is a hunger hormone which is secreted when the stomach is empty and> signals it’s time to eat! Higher levels produced when you are sleep deprived means you guessed it you feel hungry more often!

Not only are our hormones campaigning against us when we are sleep deprived but so is our brain. When we are tired we suffer from decreased activity in the frontal lobe, which affects our decision making processes. When tired we suffer similarly to when drunk and> we struggle to make good decisions. We end up reaching for the takeaway menu or those donuts in the office! Sleep deprivation also affects the “reward centre” in our brain meaning again you are more likely to reach for something that makes you feel good, cake, biscuits or some other form of junk food!

So hopefully now you are convinced on the importance of sleep on our eating habits. Here are some tips on how to get a better nights sleep, and> the all important 8 or 9 hours a night.

1. Try and> stick to a sleep schedule, going to bed at a similar time each night and> getting up at the same time. This can be difficult with odd shift patterns but at least try and> get the same amount of sleep each night to begin with – go to bed earlier if you have to get up earlier etc.

2. Do the same thing each night so you body understand>s its sleep time, take a bath, read a book anything relaxing – try and> avoid the TV and> other electronic devices.

3. Try and> keep your bedroom for bedtime only, avoid watching TV in bed and> make your bedroom area a comfortable environment for sleep. Try and> get rid of all light and> noise. Ear plugs and> blackout blinds are good options.

4. Try and> clear your mind before going to bed, write a to do list for the following day or try some light yoga stretches or meditation may help.

Sleep well!