With 1 in 3 Americans short on sleep, it should be no surprise that sleep is written into my wellness plan for clients. I have no doubt you know the difference between restful sleep and short, disturbed sleep. But have you ever noticed the cascade of poor decisions that might follow? (Even if a bad night of sleep only happens once a week?)
A 2017 meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that even partial sleep deprivation could cause people to eat more but exercise the same. Simply put, people who didn’t sleep well had a tendency to increase food intake without exercising more to balance those extra calories.
A 2004 study also found that short sleep durations led to a 15 percent increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin and a 15 percent decrease in the satiety hormone leptin. This means lack of sleep literally causes your hunger hormones to scream, “Eat!” while your satiety hormones — the ones that tell you you’re full — are short-circuiting.
Lack of sleep also interferes with our attention and skin
But, it isn’t just the waistline consequences I worry about for my on-camera clients. A lack of sleep is associated with a harder time thinking and recalling information, which isn’t great when you need to remember lines on set.
- fine lines
- marked looseness of the skin
- uneven skin tone
Lastly, poor sleep sets you up to get sick, which only serves to worsen sleep and decrease physical activity. This overall health state negatively affects body composition, stress levels, and mood.
But don’t let the stats scare you! Instead, put a plan in place to get more consistent Zzz’s. Let’s pretend for a minute you’re my client. It’s time to stop dieting and start sleeping.
Here’s my ‘Sleep Yourself Sexy’ pep talk:
1. Keep it consistent
I want you heading to bed and waking up at the same time every night (or as close to it as possible) to support your circadian rhythm. The earlier you head to bed, the closer you can sync your sleep to the natural light cycle of the sun, and the faster you will hit your body composition goals. Start using the bedtime feature on your iPhone to maintain consistency. Eventually you’ll naturally start to get tired before your selected bedtime.
Red Carpet Tip: On a tight deadline, my clients are required to eat dinner by 5 p.m. and head to bed by 9 p.m.!
2. Shut out the blue light
Blue light illuminating from computer screens, phones, and tablets can have a negative effect on our hormones by suppressing the production of melatonin. A recent study from the University of Houston found that levels of melatonin increased by 58 percent when participants wore amber lens for three hours before bed. (This level is even higher than when supplementing with melatonin!)
Study participants reported sleeping better and falling asleep faster. They even increased their sleep duration by almost 30 minutes a night.
Red Carpet Tip: If you plan on scrolling through your IG feed before bed, slip on a pair of blue light-blocking glasses.
3. Make it 7-8 hours
Make it easy on yourself by balancing your hormones through a solid seven to eight hours of sleep each night. There’s no getting around the fact that little sleep decreases satiety and increases intake and cravings.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that increasing sleep resulted in participants eating 10 grams less sugar. Researchers behind this study believe that even an hour longer in bed could lead to healthier food choices.
Red Carpet Tip: Instead of fighting not to eat, sleep!
If you were my client tomorrow, I’d ask you, “How many hours of sleep did you get last night?” And I ask this question to every client, whether they’re getting ready to walk the red carpet for an award show, preparing for a movie role as a superhero, or simply trying to lose the last of their baby weight.
Consistent sleep is integral to my clients’ success in hitting their goals — every time! And we got science to support our experience.
Kelly LeVeque is a celebrity nutritionist, wellness expert, and best-selling author based in Los Angeles. Before starting her consulting business, Be Well By Kelly, she worked in the medical field for Fortune 500 companies like J&J, Stryker, and Hologic, eventually moving into personalized medicine, offering tumor gene mapping and molecular subtyping to oncologists. She received her bachelor’s from UCLA and completed her postgrad clinical education at UCLA and UC Berkeley. Kelly’s client list includes Jessica Alba, Chelsea Handler, Kate Walsh, and Emmy Rossum. Guided by a practical and optimistic approach, Kelly helps people improve their health, achieve their goals, and develop sustainable habits to live a healthy and balanced life. Follow her on Instagram.