Sleep More, Weigh Less: Your New Reason to Hit Snooze
You're probably already aware that sleep is essential for your health, but did you know that it can actually impact your weight? Yes, it's true. Sleep has a direct effect on your weight.
Skimping on sleep can pack on the pounds, but hitting snooze can shed them.
Even if you have the best nutrition and fitness plan around, if your sleep schedule is out of whack, you'll be out of whack.
If you're looking for a new reason to hit the snooze button, this is it.
Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation
- Individuals consume roughly 300 extra calories a day compared to sufficient sleep days.
- Individuals experience increased levels of hunger the hormone Ghrelin.
- And they experience decreased levels of satiety or the fullness hormone Leptin.
- Sleep deprivation generally leads to weight gain and overeating.
- Their physical activity decreases.
- They’ll eat more at night due to the energy needed to stay awake longer.
- They’re more likely to eat higher calorie and unhealthy foods.
- Most importantly, they can undo the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise routine.
Forty percent of Americans get six hours of sleep per night or less. The percentage of obesity is nearly identical. Sleep experts recommend getting at least seven to nine hours per night.
Let's dive in deeper.
Poor Sleep Controls Your Diet
It turns out hunger has nothing to do with willpower and everything to do with biology. The two hormones that control appetite are leptin and ghrelin.
Leptin is produced in your fat cells. The less you create, the more your stomach feels empty. It's what cues your brain to put the fork down. When you're sleep deprived, leptin levels drop significantly signaling to your brain to eat more and more food.
Ghrelin stimulates hunger and tells your body when to eat while reducing your metabolism and increasing the amount of fat your store. When you're sleep deprived, your body makes too much ghrelin.
You need both of these under control to effectively lose weight. Sleep deprivation makes this nearly impossible.
On top of these two hormones, there's also a cortisol spike that happens from not enough sleep. It's a stress hormone. It signals to your body to conserve energy to fuel your body while you're awake which means you're more apt to hang onto fat.
According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, sleeping less than seven hours per night can actually undo and reduce the benefits of any dieting you do. Yikes.
In one interesting study, dieters went on different sleep schedules. After they had adequate rest, half the weight they lost was from fat. However, when they cut back on sleep, the amount of fat lost was cut in half! Even after being on the same diet. The participants also felt hungrier, lacked the energy to exercise, and felt less satisfaction after meals.
Poor Sleep Decreases Your RMR and Muscle Mass
Your resting metabolic rate or RMR is the number of calories your body burns if you were to sit on your couch all day doing nothing. It's when your body is entirely at rest. It factors in age, weight, height, sex, and muscle mass. The higher your RMR, the more calories you burn doing nothing. The higher, the better for weight loss purposes.
In a recent study, 15 men were kept wide-awake for 24 hours. After this period, their RMR was five percent lower than after one regular night's rest. Sleep has an impact on metabolism.
Insufficient sleep has also been seen to cause muscle loss. Muscle burns more calories than fat does, so when you lose any muscle, your RMR decreases.
Another study put 10 overweight adults on a 14-day diet of calorie-restricted foods. Participants were allowed either 8.5 hours of sleep or 5.5 hours of sleep. Both groups lost fat and muscle, but the 5.5 hours of sleep individuals lost less weight from fat and more from muscle.
Poor Sleep Sabotages Your Gym Time
So we already know that a lack of sleep causes disastrous effects on your diet. Well, it spreads into your workouts too.
We've already established that lack of sleep leads to muscle loss. But scientists have also found that lack of sleep decreases protein synthesis, which is your body's ability to make more muscle. Not getting enough zzz's can also lead to more injuries.
Recovery is another vital aspect of working out. Lack of sleep makes it so much harder for your body to recover from exercise. It slows down the growth hormone that's responsible for anti-aging, fat burning, and recovery.
When your sleep is suffering, your workouts will feel ten times harder and be less effective.
Okay, enough with the negatives. Let's look at all the positive ways sleep can help you lose weight.
Sleep Helps You Burn More Calories
After a good night's rest, you'll have more energy to tackle the world. Your body will be burning more calories without even hitting the gym. People who have regular sleeping patterns burn twenty percent more calories after a meal than those who are sleep deprived. Also, if you and your friend are on the same eating plan, if you're not getting enough sleep, they're going to be seeing better results than you. It's the cold hard truth.
Sleep Encourages Healthier Eating
You know the saying, never grocery shop when you're hungry. Well, the same can be said for when you're exhausted too. Sleep deprived individuals generally buy nearly 1,300 calories of food more than their rested counterparts. That's extra (and most likely unhealthy) calories your body doesn't need. More energy increases motivation to keep goals on track.
Sleep Stops Late Night Snacking
It makes perfect sense. The longer you stay awake at night, the more calories you're likely to consume from hunger or boredom. Consuming late-night calories may seem innocent, but they can actually rack up an extra pound or two per week, according to researchers. Pass on those Oreos and slip into dreamland in your comfortable bed instead.
Sleep Keeps Your Brain Focused
Your brain on sleep and your brain off of sleep are very, very different. Harvard Medical researchers tested this using brain scans on those who reported daytime sleepiness. They then measured their minds after seeing high-calorie foods. What they saw was reduced activation in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that controls inhibition and behaviors. So, when you're tired, you're much more likely to overeat. Those who were well rested were able to resist temptations and say no to unhealthy foods.
Catch More Zzz's
Bottom line: The connection between sleep and weight gain simply can't be ignored. If you've been trying to shed pounds and have been unsuccessful, sleep may be your new secret weapon. Along with lowering your weight, other health benefits include lowering your risk of diabetes, lowering high blood pressure, and decreasing the risk of heart failure. Take care of yourself by getting the recommended seven to nine hours per night. It could mean all the difference.
Better health starts with better sleep.
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