Do You Experience Sugar Cravings?

Do you experience sugar cravings?

Given sleep deprivation triggers the body to seek out sugar as a source of fuel for the brain, I’d say there’s a pretty good chance that you’re raising your hand right now 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♂️.

This is because your body is always acting on your behalf, not only to help you to survive but to thrive.

It knows instinctively that it can break down carbohydrates into a useable form of energy very quickly, much faster than protein and fat.

But what else contributes to sugar cravings?

Nutritional deficiencies.

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Does Your Workplace Have A Lollie Jar?

I was speaking at a conference on the weekend, and I asked the attendees the following question:

“Do you have a lollie jar stashed in a drawer at work? There were quite a few nods in the room, and one guy even said they have a Lollie Locker!

Whooska. Well, at least he was honest.

The thing is, they’re pretty much in every shift working workplace on the planet.

Incredibly, (but not surprisingly), they line the drawers of most hospital wards … but don’t get me started about the food in the hospitals. I’m going to save that for an entirely different email!!

Anyway, I digress.

Getting back to the lollie jar. Does your workplace also have those “fundraising choccies” that make several appearances throughout the year??

It’s for a good cause, right?

Well … yes, I’m not going to disagree with that, but at what cost to those who are consuming these sugar-laden treats?

You see, when we’re constantly sleep-deprived our bodies are essentially in a state of ‘fight or flight’ which leads us to crave sugar.

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HSW 83: How Better Sleep Leads To Weight Loss

In today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about how better sleep leads to weight loss because there’s always so much emphasis and focus around nutrition and exercise when it comes to weight loss, and rightly so – however, sleep is often the missing link.

We discuss:

  1.  How sleep deprivation and disruption messes with our appetite-regulating hormones.
  2. Why our bodies instinctively crave sugar (or carbohydrates) instead of healthy fats and protein when we haven’t had enough sleep.
  3. Why sleep deprivation is a form of stress on our body that impairs fat burning.
  4. Three things that you may be inadvertently doing that is worsening your sleep disruption, in addition to the shift work itself, which is going to have a negative impact on weight loss.

Better Sleep – The Missing Link To Sustainable Weight Loss:

Your Best New Year's Resolution For 2019!


As we close the door on yet another year, I have to ask – “is one of your New Year’s resolutions to lose weight?”

As a shift worker immersed in a sleep disrupted lifestyle, I’d say the chances of you replying to that question with a “yes”, is pretty high.

Why?  Well generally speaking, the less we sleep, the more we’re going to weigh.

I know what you’re thinking – “that sucks!”

I agree.  It does.  But the thing is, when we’re sleep deprived, there are 3 distinct things or biochemical changes which occur within our body, that if we ignore, can fast track us down the express lane to weight gain before we’ve even had a chance to see it coming!

  1. When we haven’t had enough sleep, our body instinctively seeks out energy that it didn’t get during a restorative night’s rest.What does that mean?  Well the quickest and easiest source of energy that our body can use is, you guessed it – sugar!  Or more scientifically, glucose, which means if you don’t get sufficient sleep, you’re going to have some serious carbohydrate cravings.
  2. When we haven’t had enough sleep, it dysregulates our appetite-regulating hormones ‘ghrelin’ and ‘leptin’.  Ghrelin is a hormone that gets released to increase our appetite, whereas leptin is a hormone that lets you know when you’re feeling full.  The problem when we’re sleep deprived, is ghrelin becomes elevated making us feel hungrier than normal, whilst at the same time, leptin becomes suppressed meaning you’re not going to receive that “I’m feeling full” signal which can lead to overeating and subsequent weight gain.So yes, you do have a valid, scientific explanation (or shall we say ‘justification’) as to why you polished off 1/2 packet of Tim Tams in your meal break!
  3. When we haven’t had enough sleep, it increases a stress hormone in our body called cortisol. While it’s a great hormone to have around when you need to slam on your breaks in traffic, its not good to have high amounts of it floating around on a consistent basis.  This is because cortisol raises our blood sugar, which in turn, raises our insulin levels.  Like with anything in excess, too much insulin can lead in the development of a condition called insulin resistance, which reduces our body’s ability to burn fat often leading in the development of weight gain around the abdomen or belly region.

So whilst what we eat is important when it comes to sustainable weight loss – it’s certainly by no means, the be all and end all.

Instead of following the crowd and focussing all of your attention on a restrictive, unsustainable diet for your New Year’s Resolution (which let’s face it, most have usually given up by the 2nd week of January anyway!), my recommendation for you, is to take on a completely different approach.

That being focussing on improving both the quality and quantity of your sleep, because this is going to help your body to experience less sugar cravings and hormonal dysregulation, which will inadvertently help you to lose weight anyway!

And let’s face it, who doesn’t want better sleep – especially when working 24/7!

Audra x

 

References:

Greer, S, Goldstein, A & Walker, M 2013, ‘The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain’, Nature Communications, vol. 4, no. 2259.

Hirotsu, C, Tufik, S & Anderson, M 2015, ‘Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism:  From physiological to pathological conditions’, Sleep Science, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 143-142.

Taheri, S, Lin, L, Austin, D, Young, T & Mignot, E 2004, ‘Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index’, PLoS Medicine, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 210-217.

HSW 70: Split Sleep with Dr Melinda Jackson

“Can splitting the timing of sleep reduce the adverse effects of night shift work?”

It’s an interesting question, and one which was put forward by Dr Melinda Jackson who I met at the recent Sleep Down Under Conference here in Brisbane a few weeks ago.  Melinda is a researcher and registered psychologist, specialising in sleep disorders based at RMIT University in Melbourne, and has undertaken a lot of research in this area both here in Australia and overseas.

Given many shift workers often experience various degrees of broken and/or disrupted sleep depending on their location and occupation, this episode has been dedicated to discussing all things to do with alertness, productivity, performance and health when it comes to split sleep.

What you’re going to learn:

  • What exactly is split or segmented sleep?
  • The two processes of sleep, and why we need to have both in order to sleep well
  • Does undertaking split sleep pose any additional risks on our level of alertness or health?
  • What are some of the benefits to splitting in two segments?
  • Naps before nightshift – are they a good thing?
  • Are we putting too much pressure on ourselves to sleep in one chunk?

Links mentioned on the podcast:
Australasian Sleep Association
RMIT University