One thing that many people fail to realize in their quest to lose weight and get fit, is how sleep factors into the equation.
We all know that in order to get in shape we should eat right and exercise, but many people forget one of the most important factors… which is SLEEP!
There are even some personal trainers who advise their clients to get on a good sleep schedule before even starting their workouts because it will make a difference in the results they see.
Sounds kind of crazy right? I mean what does sleep have to do with losing weight?… Well, the answer might surprise you.
If you want to accomplish that New Year’s resolution, or fit into those skinny jeans or slim down for the big day you’ll want to keep reading.
Several studies like this one published by researchers from the Columbia School of Public Health show that those who get an inadequate amount of sleep (<7hrs a night) are more likely to be obese and have higher average body mass indexes (BMIs) than those who sleep longer than 7 hours.
In fact, this study that followed 60,000 women over 16 years found that those who slept <5 hours a day were 15 PERCENT more likely to obese and 30% more likely to have an average weight gain of 30lbs over the course of the study as compared to women who slept > 7 hours.
And as if these studies aren’t staggering enough, this one found that as little as 5 days of sleep deprivation can have a profound effect on weight.
The participants in this study who were sleep-restricted gained an average of 2
Well, now that you know that sleep CAN have a huge impact on weight, the next question you might have is why???
Well, there are several answers to that question and we will discuss each in detail below…
1) Lack of Sleep Increases H
That’s right. Depriving your body of sleep actually causes you to produce more of the hunger hormone (ghrelin) than you produce when you are fully rested. And while the hunger hormone increases, the hormone that you produce to let you know that you’re full (leptin) actually goes DOWN, leading to an increased appetite.
So while you’re trying to stick with that diet and eat right, you could be sabotaging yourself by skimping on your nightly zzz’s.
I mean, if you were attempting to lose weight, you wouldn’t sit there with a big piece of chocolate cake right in front of you, as this would make it really difficult to resist temptation right?
So why do the same thing to yourself by missing out on your sleep?
2) Less S
leep Leads to Alterations in Your Metabolism
The relationship between your metabolism and sleep deprivation is an interesting one. While you are asleep, your metabolism reaches its lowest state of energy expenditure.
This makes sense because when you are asleep, you only need enough energy to maintain your most basic bodily functions. And this is good because your body wants to work efficiently and conserve energy whenever possible.
So that means that if you’re awake longer, your metabolism stays higher longer and you burn more calories right??? Well, no.
While you don’t have those dips in metabolism for as long as you would during a full night’s sleep, people who don’t sleep enough are actually less active in general and tend to burn LESS calories throughout the day.
And because of those increased hunger and decreased full signals you end up eating way more than you burn, which leads to those extra lbs.
Some studies even suggest that your basal metabolic rate directly after a short night of sleep actually decreases the following day, which could further pack on the pounds.
3) Sleep Loss Equals More Fat and Less Muscle
When you deprive yourself of sleep, it sends your body in a “high stress state”. This state leads to increased production of the stress hormone cortisol.
When cortisol is produced, it signals to your body that you should store more fat, and even
Moreover, in your high stress state, your body prefers to use muscle instead of fat for energy, leading to loss of lean mean muscle mass.
4) More Time Awake Means More Time To Eat
This goes without saying. Spending those extra 2 to 3 hours staying up watching Netflix, working on a project for work or on social media just gives you an extra 2 to 3 hours to eat and drink.
And as we often end up missing sleep for mindless or stressful activities, our propensity to grab unhealthy foods is at its highest.
Staying awake for longer than recommended also causes our body to want to consume more calories, to fuel us for those extra hours.
So not only do we end up eating more because we have more time to eat, we also end up eating more unhealthy foods, which are both bad for our waistlines.
5) Less Sleep Equals Less Energy to Be Active
Ever been up all night and woke up the next day bursting with excitement to hit the gym? Probably not right?
Missing out on sleep makes you tired and less energetic than you are after a full night of sleep. And tiredness coupled with lack of energy is not a great set up for being active during the day.
Not only are you less likely to hit the gym, but you’re also less likely to do things like take the stairs, or go for a walk, etc.
This leads to
The good news is that that are things you can do to improve your sleep and get the most out of your diet and workouts.
So who’s ready to sleep your way to a healthier, slimmer you? If you’re looking for ways to improve your sleep, visit my post How Can I Cure My Insomnia?: 7 Tips to Ensuring A Good Night’s Sleep or for natural ways to improve your sleep read Natural Sleep Remedies: Your Solution to Helping You Fall Asleep Naturally.