If you’re trying to lose weight, the amount of sleep you get may be just as important as your diet and exercise.
It’s true: Being short on sleep can really affect your weight. When you choose to sleep less than you should, your body creates the perfect environment for weight gain.
But why does this happen?
When you’re short on sleep, it’s easy to rely on your large latte to get moving. You might be tempted to skip exercise (too tired), get takeout for dinner, and then make it late because you’re uncomfortably full.
If this series of events happen a few times each year, no problem. The trouble is, more than a third of the people aren’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis. ⚠️
Plus, while we often think of appetite as simply a matter of stomach grumbling, it’s actually controlled by neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that allow neurons (nerve cells) to communicate with one another.
The neurotransmitters (ghrelin and leptin) are thought to be central to appetite. Ghrelin promotes hunger, and leptin contributes to feeling full. The body naturally increases and decreases the levels of these neurotransmitters throughout the day, signaling the need to consume calories.
A lack of sleep may affect the body’s regulation of these neurotransmitters. This dysregulation of ghrelin and leptin may lead to increased appetite and diminished feelings of fullness in people who are sleep-deprived. 😴
Add it all together, and a sleepy brain appears to crave junk food while also lacking the impulse control to say no. So your sleep-deprived brain may have trouble saying no to that second slice of cake…
🛌🏻 Sleep and Metabolism
Sleep is like nutrition for the brain. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours each night. Get less than that, and your body will react in ways that can lead to weight gain.
Too little sleep triggers a cortisol spike. This stress hormone signals your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours.
Sleep deprivation makes you “metabolically groggy.” And, within just a few days of insufficient sleep, your body’s ability to process insulin – a hormone needed to change sugar, starches, and other food into energy – goes awry.
⚠️ Here’s why that’s bad: When your body doesn’t respond properly to insulin, your body has trouble processing fats from your bloodstream, so it ends up storing them as fat.
So it’s not as simple as “sleeping helps you lose weight”, but it’s a fact that too little sleep hampers your metabolism and contributes to weight gain.
💡Tricks and tips for a better night’s sleep
The basics are pretty simple:
- Shut down your computer, cell phone, and TV at least an hour before you hit the sack.
- Save your bedroom for sleep. Think relaxation and release, rather than work or entertainment.
- Create a bedtime ritual. It’s not the time to tackle big issues. Instead, take a warm bath, meditate, or read.
- Stick to a schedule, waking up and slowing down at the same times every day, even on weekends.
- Watch what and when you eat. Avoid eating heavy meals and alcohol close to bedtime, which may cause heartburn and make it hard to fall asleep.
- Turn out the lights. Darkness cues your body to release the natural sleep hormone melatonin, while light suppresses it.
It’s clear that sleep is important for losing weight. A lack of sleep can increase appetite by changing hormones, makes us more likely to eat unhealthy foods, and influences how body fat is lost while counting our calories.
Sleep should, therefore, be considered essential, alongside diet and physical activity, as part of a healthy lifestyle❗️