If you wished that losing weight was as easy as sleeping, then this blog is for you.
When we are trying to lose weight, we all focus on what we eat or drink, and how much physical activity we engage in throughout our day. While designing the perfect diet & workout plans, we tend to miss a very important factor that is known to help in shedding some weight: sleep. Sleep not only relaxes your body, but it also allows it to heal and restore energy levels — that is, if done in a timely manner and done properly.
Years of research has established that there is a strong connection between weight and sleep. It might sound strange, but a good night’s sleep can actually help you maintain, and even get to, a healthy body weight. On average, adults who sleep less than seven hours are likely to gain more weight as compared to those who sleep between seven to nine hours. However, one must be wary of the fact that simply counting the number of hours slept is not enough to mark it as “sufficient” sleep; the time at which you sleep matters just as much.
Why Insufficient Sleep Causes You to Eat More?
Think about it: its 1 A.M. on a Monday, you’re awake watching netflix, or finishing an assignment, or preparing for a pitch at work, and the last meal you had was dinner, at 7 P.M. Without a doubt, you’ll feel hungry — it is but natural to — but you’ll be more inclined to munch on junk food to satiate yourself, food that is hardest to digest when sleeping. The next day, you go to work tired, sleepy, and to shake off the lackluster, you drink a cup of coffee or eat your favorite sugary food (comfort food) for an instant shot of energy. In this example alone, insufficient sleep has caused ghrelin (a hormone that increases appetite) to become more prevalent than the hormone leptin (a hormone that tells the brain when you are full), disturbing the way you consume food.
According to a recent study, involving 70,000 women who were monitored for 16 years, it was found that women who slept for less than five hours were 32% more likely to gain weight (around 33 pounds) than the women who slept for at least seven hours. Over the course of the study, it was observed that women who slept for six hours, were 12 percent more likely to gain at least 33 pounds.
Although this study might not establish a direct link between sleep and weight gain but it does establishes a connection between the both.
How Sleeping Less is Making you Gain Weight?
Research shows that as you become sleep deprived, your metabolism slows down to try and conserve the resources (food) in it. To top it off, your internal sympathetic nervous system remains alert to look for food, and this raises cortisol in your system. Cortisol is indicative of stress, and when stress levels are high, your brain seeks for a calming effect. This can be achieved via the production of serotonin, and the fastest way of achieving this is by consuming foods high in fat and carbs. Thus begins the vicious cycle of sleep-deprivation, unhealthy eating, and weight gain.
Ways Sleep Can Help You Shed Extra Pounds
- Proper sleep (in terms of the number of hours slept and the time at which you sleep) enables the body to burn the stored fat effectively so that the next day, you have the requisite fuel to keep your mind & body active.
- A recent study has found that a rested body burns 20% more calories than a sleep deprived one. If this isn’t enough to get you to retune your sleep cycle, we don’t know what is!
- Sleep deprivation affects the body’s ability to process insulin and increases the storage of lipids and fatty acids in your body. Such sub-optimal functioning of the body increases one’s likelihood to gain weight.
According to Michael Grander, who studies sleep disorders at the University of Pennsylvania, while these findings don’t prove that sleep deprivation causes one to gain weight, they do show that sleep is a priority.
There are many factors that help you maintain an appropriate body weight. Sleeping in the right proportions and at the right time is just as important as eating right and staying active. Poor sleep patterns not only hinder your ability to function properly but can also lead to several health problems, such as gastrointestinal reflux, insomnia, depression, heart disease, and so on.