In case you've picked up The Metro on Monday, you might have read it, in black on white, on a Monday morning: Britain is the fattest nation in Europe.
Not the kind of motivation you want or need on a rainy Monday morning, when you are slightly depressed anyway (X Factor, rugby, winter blues). Next time, why not stay in bed and catch up on your sleep? It's an absolutely essential nutrient for our well being, and it's important for this nation to slim down.
If you think about it, our ancestors slept an average of nine to ten hours per night. What a luxury, some of you think. But to others, a huge waste of invaluable time you could spend catching up on your favourite TV show, reading emails or checking out your 300+ online friends.
Nowadays you are probably happy when get six hours of sleep (followed by two skinny lattes to wake you up). The problem is that sleep deprivation causes imbalances in your hormones, which cause you to crave more (junk) food to get through the day. And that causes you to pile on the pounds. Thinking about this, our ancestors didn't seem to have the same issues with rising obesity or type 2 diabetes, either.
There are two hormones mainly involved in regulating your food intake: ghrelin and leptin, and they influence eating in different ways. Ghrelin is an appetite-stimulating hormone released mostly by the stomach, whereas leptin is a satiety or fullness hormone, released by your fat cells. When ghrelin levels are up, you feel hungry. When leptin levels are high, that sends a message to the brain that the body has enough food, and the person feels full. Low levels indicate starvation and increase appetite.
Research studies indicate that sleep-deprived people produce higher levels of ghrelin, which have been shown to 'reduce energy expenditure, stimulate hunger and food intake, and promote retention of fat.' Meaning: too little sleep can make you fat!
If you have trouble getting to sleep and can't switch off, there are a range of vitamins, minerals and herbs to support your nervous system and a good night's sleep, such as B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and valerian. Switching off electrical stimulants at least an hour before you go to bed will help you to calm down as well.
Now that you know the influence of your sleeping pattern on your eating schedule, I challenge you to increase your sleep and try to get at least 7.5 hours undisturbed sleep per night.