Stress, Sleep, & Losing Weight


Stress is endemic. It fills our world. It comes at us from every direction. In the home, there are relationship problems, children problems, money problems, neighbour problems, family & friend problems, and almost certainly a load more that you have to deal with on a daily basis. At work, there are colleagues, bosses, boredom, expectations, demands, and again probably a load more things that are there in your mind every morning when you set off, and are still on your mind when you get home. Then you have to deal with all of that home stuff as well.

Is there a solution?

Well there is and there isn’t.

There isn’t anything you can do about other people and the way they relate to you or treat you. If you want to be warm, eat hot, nourishing food, and have somewhere safe to sleep then you are going to have to pay people money for fuel, food, and rent – which means you have to find a way to obtain that money. In this society that generally means becoming a slave to someone else’s whims and desires for a certain number of hours a day. In some occupations they even demand your slavery for 24 hours a day by forcing you to remain contactable via your smartphone. So you’re pretty much stuck with all of that – at least for now.

So how do you change it?

You can’t change them, and you can’t change the system. But there is something you can do about your personal response to all of that. When you change your personal response your world changes.

But the first thing I’m going to mention is eating.

Stress and overeating are linked. Food is an excellent love substitute, and sweet, fatty, and/or salty foods are particularly satisfying. So when you get home from work, after a rough day, you don’t feel like cooking something healthy. So quick and easy is the solution – maybe something out of a tin, a packet, or the freezer. Pop it in the microwave and you can ease away the stresses of the day with each glorious mouthful of unhealthy food. A study by several US universities (Illinois,Michigan et al), published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, discovered an interesting connection between stress at work and eating.

“We found that employees who have a stressful workday tend to bring their negative feelings from the workplace to the dinner table, as manifested in eating more than usual and opting for more junk food instead of healthy food,” said Chu-Hsiang “Daisy” Chang, MSU associate professor of psychology and co-author. However she added that with a good night’s sleep behind them workers had a tendency to eat better when they experienced stress the following day.

So the best thing you can do to help yourself to cope with stress is to sleep well.

“A good night’s sleep can make workers replenished and feel vigorous again, which may make them better able to deal with stress at work the next day and less vulnerable to unhealthy eating,” (Chang)

There’s nothing really surprising here. If you sleep well you can cope better with what the day throws at you, and if you can cope better you have a much lower need to compensate with fatty, greasy, sugary foods. If you sleep badly and go to work tired and with stresses from the previous day still on your mind then you are going to become even more stressed and seek comforting foods to compensate.

So, it seems that the key to maintaining a healthy weight, and cope better with stress, is a good night’s sleep. But if the stress is what’s causing the poor night’s sleep then it’s a bit of a Catch-22 situation.

So what’s the way out?

You need a two-pronged attack.

Find ways of dealing with the stress, and find ways to get a better night’s sleep despite the stress.

When you deal with both at the same time you will ease both at the same time, and as the stress eases, and you sleep better then you will find yourself needing to eat less and so you’ll start to lose weight too and that will reinforce the better sleeping, better eating and much improved ability to cope with stress.

Now, I experienced chronic anxiety for many, many years, so I’m not being glib when I say find ways of dealing with the stress. I know you can because I’ve done it. But you need to be serious about it and you need to change the way you view the world.

I’ve written about this, and how to achieve it, in my book Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis (also available from the Apple Bookstore)

And hypnosis is brilliant for improving sleep quality too, so check out my Insomnia MP3 instant download too.

But if all that drew you to this article was the Losing Weight bit of the title then treat yourself to this


By Michael

I have been a hypnotherapist for around 12 years. My specific interests are in stress and physical healing. My fascination is with how the mind 'creates' the world. I am a fan of Esther & Jerry Hicks.