Why Is Sleep Important for Weight Loss?

sleeping woman

Giving up sugar and junk food are the common things we try to do to lose weight. However, by staying awake for long hours, your body cooks up a perfect recipe for weight gain. Sleep deprived people have a hard time losing weight and tend to weigh more. According to a study of U.S adults, about 30% of adults sleep less than six hours a day. Lack of sleep has shown to increase hunger and affect your body’s metabolism. Now, let us look at the six reasons why you need sleep for weight loss.

Sleep Controls Your Diet

The recommended sleep hours are between seven to eight hours a day. Sleeping less than this time can reduce or undo the benefits of dieting. Of course, eating less and moving more can help with weight loss. But that weight loss doesn’t come easily since there is something you’re lacking called sleep. In a case study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, dieters were put on different sleep schedules. After their bodies received adequate sleep, half of the weight loss was from fat. However, after cutting back on their sleep, the amount of fat lost was cut in half and some didn’t lose any fat at all. Additionally, they felt hungrier, and less satisfied after meals. All this was due to lack of enough sleep.

Poor Sleep Increases Calories Intake and Fat Storage

In a study involving 12 men, those participants who were allowed only four hours of sleep ate 559 more calories the following day compared to when they slept for eight hours. The increased calories intake was as a result of poor food choice. Additionally, increased calories intake may be due to the inability to control portion sizes. Furthermore, sleep deprivation may interfere with your body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates which can lead to high levels of blood sugar. This excess blood sugar promotes overproduction of insulin resulting in storage of body fat and insulin resistance, a marker for diabetes.

Sleep Enhances Physical Activity

sleeping woman

Less sleep causes daytime fatigue making you less likely to exercise. Exercising helps to build up muscle which is crucial since it helps in burning more calories. Lack of sleep can cause muscle loss and also increase production of the stress hormone, cortisol. This hormone can trigger unhealthy eating. If you’re having less sleep at night, after exercising your body might experience hard recovery time. This is due to slow production of growth hormone which is the source of anti-aging and fat burning, plus it facilitates recovery.

Sleep Helps Fight Cravings

Less sleep can alter the way your brain works, thus making it harder to make healthy choices and resist tempting food. Moreover, when you’re sleep deprived, the centers of your brain are stimulated by food affecting your self-control. In one research, they found that lack of sleep increases your affinity for foods that are high in calories, fats, and carbs.

Less Sleep Decreases Your Resting Metabolism

The number of calories your body burns when you’re asleep, also called resting metabolism rate (RMR) can be decreased by sleep deprivation. Additionally, RMR can be affected by age, weight, sex, height and muscle mass. nIn a study, 14 men were kept awake for 24 hours. Subsequently, their RMR was 5% lower than after a normal night sleep and also their metabolic rate decreased by 20% after eating.

Lack of Sleep Increases Appetite

Poor sleep has an effect on the hunger hormone, ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is a hormone released in the stomach and it signals hunger in the brain. The levels of this hormone are high before you eat and low after eating. On the other hand, leptin hormone is released from fat cells and it suppresses hunger thus signaling fullness in the brain. Lack of enough sleep makes your body produce more ghrelin and less leptin, resulting in an increased appetite and which makes you hungrier. In a study with over 1000 participants, those who slept for a short duration had 14.9 % higher ghrelin levels and 15.5% lower leptin levels than those who had enough sleep.

The Bottom Line

There are three key components if you are looking to lose weight. This includes exercising, eating healthy and getting quality sleep. Lack of sleep alters your body’s responds to food. It can be difficult to get adequate sleep every night, however, let night sleep time be your number one priority. Moreover, adequate sleep promotes overall body health and alertness during the day. You’re able to concentrate more during work.

All images via Pixabay


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