You’re a mom who is exhausted. Even though your child isn’t a newborn anymore, they still wake up at night like one and it seems that only you can get them back to sleep. You wouldn’t mind it so much if there weren’t any repercussions. But lately you feel like you’re not parenting at your best.
You once had a ton of energy for your kids and you loved to exercise and eat healthy meals. You laughed, played, went outside with your baby.
But now, it seems like the vitality has been sucked out of you.
You want to get out to tot and parent classes, whip up fabulous family friendly meals and get back to running every day, but it’s just not happening. Instead it’s a revolving door of staying home during the day, getting up at night, convenience foods and take out.
Try as you might, you just can’t seem to get motivated to stick to a healthy routine.
Why is getting in shape harder when you’re tired? Here’s the science.
In short, you’re sleep deprived, leaving you tired and craving foods that are bad for you. The reasoning is due to how our appetite hormones; grehlin and leptin fluctuate when we’re tired.
Grehelin indicates hunger, signaling the need to eat, while leptin performs the opposite task. It signals to our brain that we are full or satisfied. It is also responsible for the body choosing to burn calories or storing them as fat to be used for energy later.
While asleep (adults need 7-9 hours each night), grehelin is decreased and leptin rises; telling the brain that our energy levels are good and we don’t need to burn calories.
However when sleep loss occurs, studies point to the opposite happening. Grehelin (remember it’s the hunger hormone) increases, leptin decreases, and we don’t feel satisfied.
Leptin also dictates when calories need to be burned and when more need to be stored. When we’re sleep deprived and leptin decreases, that tells the brain that the body doesn’t have enough calories, further motivating us to eat, while slowing our metabolism down in the process and storing more calories as fat.
Another reason why getting in shape is difficult when you’re tired, is the fact that sleep deprivation makes you prone to bad decisions. Your cognitive function in the frontal lobe is diminished where impulse control and decision making happens.
And as if all this information wasn’t bad enough, did you know that people who are short on sleep tend to seek “reward” foods such as those high in sugar and fat?This is because sleep deprivation causes changes in the reward seeking and addictive behavior section of the brain called the nucleus accumbens.
The more tired you are, the more “rewarding” foods you crave, while your ability to say no decreases.
What is tired mama to do?
Short answer is to get more sleep!
I know that can seem daunting with a child who is waking at night, so I will give you some easy steps in the next follow up article.
But for now, take heart knowing that there is a definite reason for what is happening with your body and that there is hope!
If you are wanting some quick tips on how to start sleeping better, remember to join me on my Facebook page for the free, live Q and A events that happens weekly. If you want to know how to begin getting your child sleeping better so YOU can sleep better, download my free sleep guide.