Want to lose weight? Get more sleep. We’ve got the skinny on the sleep-weight-hormone connection.

“A lot of people want to lose weight, but the majority of the people I see want to feel better,” says author of The Hormone Diet, Dr. Natasha Turner. In her follow-up, The Supercharged Hormone Diet: A 30-day Accelerated Plan to Lose Weight, Restore Metabolism and Feel Younger Longer, Turner gives readers a Best Body Assessment, a diet detox, an exercise prescription, recipes, snacking advice and explains why sleep is important in achieving a healthy weight.

“Optimizing sleep is one of the areas I focus on,” Turner says. “If you aren’t sleeping properly, hormones that increase your appetite are upset. It is just about impossible to stay on track with your nutrition habits when you’re not sleeping properly. Around 74 per cent of us are sleep-deprived and around the same percentage are overweight.”

Next: How sleep helps you lose weight…

Here, the skinny on the sleep-weight-hormone connection.

1) “What we know is if you don’t sleep enough, you wake up with higher amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. That makes you feel hungrier and hungrier for the foods you shouldn’t eat by triggering the appetite centres in the brain and stimulating cravings for fatty, starchy foods – not broccoli.”

2) “In sleep-deprived people, by the fourth day we see changes in their blood sugar and insulin levels that are almost similar to a pre-diabetic person. Their bodies do not process the carbohydrates as well, and blood sugars stay elevated longer after they eat. That can fuel weight gain.”

3) “The less we sleep, the less hormone leptin we have, and leptin is the hormone that basically tells us to put down the fork, making it really difficult to restore your metabolism.”

4)   “If you don’t sleep in the pitch black – which most of us don’t because we’re in a light toxic society – our bodies don’t go into deeper sleep and we don’t get the release of melatonin, the hormone that is also an anti-oxidant. It allows our immune system to repair while we sleep. If you are over 50, take a melatonin supplement nightly – with breaks perhaps on the weekends – since melatonin production naturally reduces with aging.”

5)”Without melatonin release, you don’t get the cool-down of your body and you don’t get the release of growth hormone, which rebuilds our skin cells, our muscle cells, our bone cells, all while we are sleeping.”