If you’ve been trying to lose weight like the rest of us, you’ve probably already done the hard work of fixing your nutrition, eating healthier options, and added more days to your current workout regimen. But there’s one important component to weight loss, you may not have considered — and that’s getting enough sleep.
As it turns out, there’s a demonstrated connection between getting enough sleep and successfully losing weight. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but 2016 data from the CDC indicates that more than one-third of adults aren’t getting anything close to that. As it turns out, chronic sleep deprivation is pretty common, and it could be sabotaging your weight-loss journey. Here’s what you should know:
1. Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Overeating
Sleep deprivation affects hormones that regulate appetite which leads to overeating and poorer food choices. A study from 2004 found that sleep deprivation affects the hormones ghrelin and leptin — ghrelin stimulates your appetite, and leptin helps tell you when you’re full. The researchers asked 1,024 people to keep a sleep diary, participate in an overnight sleep study in a lab, and have their hormone levels checked. They concluded that the participants had reduced leptin and elevated ghrelin, meaning they were more likely to have increased appetite.
2. Lack of Sleep Can Make You crave Unhealthy Foods
A big part of successful weight loss is making healthy food choices, and it turns out that your sleep habits can affect that process too. One study asked a group of sleep-deprived people and another group of well-rested people to rate more than 80 foods, from potato chips to strawberries, based on how badly they wanted to eat that food at the time. They found that sleep-deprived people craved high-calorie, junky foods like potato chips more than the well-rested people regardless of how hungry they actually were.
The researchers determined that sleep helps regulate a part of your brain involved in governing your food choices, and sleep deprivation affects your frontal lobe and alters your brain state, making high-calorie junk foods more appealing.
When our daily routine is disrupted, we find ourselves reaching for junk food. If you know you are going to have a busy week, plan your meals and snacks in advance so all you have to do is grab and go.
If you’re super tired and don’t have time to meal prep, just do what you can. You can always count on convenience foods and use the label to make wise choices. Do your best to include foods with fiber and nutrients while limiting those with added sugars or high sodium levels.
3. Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Poor Self-Control
For most people, routine and commitment are an important part of weight loss. Sticking to your meal plan and staying active can lead to the results you want, but the best of intentions don’t matter if you can’t follow through with your plans.
According to research out of Clemson University, sleep deprivation is linked to poor self-control and impulsive decision-making. That means that when you’re not rested enough, you might be more likely to skip the gym and act more on your impulsiveness to binge eat.
4. Lack of Sleep can Change Your Appetite Levels through Insulin Regulation
Sleep affects the way the body responds to insulin and while sleep deprivation promotes insulin resistance. This in turn causes the body to become less sensitive to insulin, making it less efficient in moving glucose from blood into the cells of the body.
Essentially, sleep deprivation alters the way your body metabolizes glucose, a kind of sugar your body breaks down from foods and uses as fuel, which can increase your insulin levels and mess with your appetite and hunger. All the extra glucose in the bloodstream is converted into fatty acids and stored in the fat tissues of your body, adding to obesity.
5. Sleep is IMPORTANT for Working Out
If exercise is part of your weight loss program then Studies show that sleep deprivation can affect your athletic performance by dropping your endurance levels. Sleep likely plays a big role in post-exercise recovery too. So for optimal performance in the gym, make sure you’re getting enough rest.
All in all, make sure to get your rest and crush your fitness goals!