The link between sleep and weight loss. What you need to know

Cracking the Code for the Sleep-Weight Puzzle

Sleep is linked to several hormonal and metabolic processes that keep your overall metabolism in balance. How well you sleep and the number of hours you spend asleep can have a direct effect on your ability to maintain or lose weight. Numerous studies have suggested that restricted sleep and poor sleep quality may lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain, and an increased risk of obesity and other chronic health conditions. While you weren’t sleeping, your body has cooked up a perfect recipe for weight gain.

Can lack of sleep increase appetite?

One common hypothesis about the connection between weight and sleep involves how sleep affects appetite. Neglecting your sleep sets your brain up to make bad decisions. It dulls activity in the brain’s frontal lobe which controls decision-making and impulse control. This will affect your mental clarity to make good decisions.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that when people were starved of sleep, late-night snacking increased. In another study done at the University of Chicago states that sleep-deprived people chose snacks with twice as much fat as those who slept at least 8 hours. When you don’t get enough sleep, your hunger hormones are out of control. Gherlin, the hormone responsible for hunger, rises, while leptin, the hormone responsible for suppressing hunger fall. This will result in a larger appetite and therefore increased food intake. All-in-all, a sleepy brain appears to crave junk food while also lacking the impulse control to say no.

Does sleep increase metabolism?

Metabolism is a chemical process in which the body converts what we eat and drink into energy needed to survive. According to University of Chicago researchers, sleep deprivation can make you “metabolically groggy”. Too little sleep triggers a cortisol spike. This stress hormone signals your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours. Metabolism slows about 15% during sleep, reaching its lowest level in the morning. Researchers found that when dieters cut back on sleep over a 14-day period, the amount of weight they lost from fat dropped by 55%. They felt hungrier and less satisfied after meals.

Researchers have also found that short sleepers produced about 50% more insulin and about 40% lower insulin sensitivity than average sleepers. When your body becomes resistant to insulin, you can’t absorb glucose as easily. You may end up with excess glucose in your blood, and when this isn’t used as fuel, it can store as fat in the body, leading to obesity. Increased insulin levels can put you at risk of type 2 diabetes.

How is sleep related to physical activity?

Losing sleep can result in having less energy for exercise and physical activity. Your energy levels and motivation take a hit, making it much harder to get out for a run or hit the gym, or do any other physical activity and calorie burn at all. Feeling tired can also make playing sports and exercising less safe. However, researchers are still working to understand this connection.

Getting regular exercise can improve sleep quality. Even taking a short walk during the day may help improve sleep. Engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise per week can improve daytime concentration and decrease daytime sleepiness.

Tips for a better night’s sleep during weight loss.

  1. Keep a regular sleep schedule:

Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends. Considerable changes in your sleep schedule can cause changes in metabolism and reduce insulin sensitivity, making it easier for blood sugar to be elevated.

  • Turn out the lights:

Exposure to artificial light while sleeping, such as a bedside lamp could hinder your ability to sleep. Darkness cues your body to release the natural sleep hormone, melatonin, while light suppresses it.

  • Reduce blue light exposure in the night:

Blue light, which electronic devices like smartphones and computers emit in large amounts, could trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Wearing glasses that blocks blue light avoid using your computer, cell phone and TV at least an hour before you hit the sack can reduce nighttime blue light exposure.

  • Don’t consume caffeine late in the day:

Caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for 6–8 hours. A single dose can enhance focus, energy, and sports performance. Studies show that consuming caffeine up to 6 hours before bed significantly worsened sleep quality. If you do crave a cup of coffee in the late afternoon or evening, stick with decaffeinated coffee.

  • Don’t eat right before bed:

Eating late may reduce the success of weight loss attempts. It may negatively affect both sleep quality and the natural release of HGH and melatonin. Consuming a large meal before bed can lead to poor sleep and hormone disruption.

The relationship between sleep and weight loss seems to go hand in hand. Disturbed sleeping patterns, in terms of both quantity and quality, have been proven to lead to an increase in snacking, especially on foods rich in fat and carbohydrates.  It disrupts your metabolism and overall functions of hormones. Making permanent and worthy changes to improve your sleep will not only help you lose weight, but also help you improve your productivity, mood, wellbeing and overall health.


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