People typically think of weight gain as the result of consuming more calories than your body spends. However, recent scientific studies have painted a much more complex relationship between obesity and biology. One surprising culprit: sleep.
Sure, most people understand that lack of sleep can result in problems like fatigue and irritability. Research has revealed that sleep deprivation can cause more serious damage to your body than tiredness. One of these many undesired side effects of sleep deprivation is excessive weight gain.
If you want to lose weight, doctors have an easy recommendation: sleep more. It may sound simple enough. Here are the proven ways of getting a good night’s rest can help you shed the unwanted pounds:
You Burn More Calories When Sleeping
You may think that staying awake makes your body burn more energy. Actually, sleeping burns more calories than staying up late reading, or watching TV.
The number of calories your body burns when you are not active is measured by the basal metabolic rate (BMR). It varies from person to person. However, when you lose sleep, your BMR slows down, so you are not burning as many calories as you should.
One study observed that among people who ate roughly the same amount of calories per day, people who slept 8.5 hours at night lost more weight than people of the same group who only slept 5.5 hours per night.
The researchers also found that the sleep-deprived cohort lost muscle mass, shifting their metabolic rate. Less muscle means the body burns fewer calories than before. Even more of a reason to sleep at least 7 hours per night.
Sleeping Well Helps You Control Your Appetite
Think about the last time you spent all night streaming videos and not sleeping. You may have had your dinner or supper. But around midnight, the munchies return in full force. This is not just your personal preference. Scientists have found credible links that lack of sleep can increase your appetite.
The hormones that control hunger, leptin, and ghrelin, are responsive to sleep. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells your brain you are hungry. Leptin is the hormone that tells your brain you are stuffed and sated. When you lose sleep, the body releases more ghrelin and less leptin.
That’s the biochemical reason you end up binge eating early morning when you don’t sleep on time. Naturally, those are extra calories you are consuming with a late-night meal, resulting in more fat deposits in the body.
When you sleep on time, you don’t end up consuming an extra meal each day. Adequate sleep ensures your hormone levels are in balance and that you can resume normal eating patterns the following day.
Adequate Sleep May Prevent Impulsive Eating and Stop Cravings
Most of us gain weight because of bad eating habits. Impulsive eating, binge eating, and worse yet, cravings for sugary and high-calorie foods are the main reasons for sudden weight gain. Sleep deprivation can make your cravings worse.
When you lose sleep on a regular basis, your brain simply starts to act differently. Sleep deprivation affects your decision-making ability in a major way. Your ability to inhibit impulsiveness occurs in a segment of the frontal lobe. The activity in this particular part of the brain reduces when you lose sleep.
That means when you are sleepy and tired, you give in to food cravings and compulsions more easily. So if you want to end those binge eating sessions and sugar cravings, don’t lose sleep at night.
As you can see, your overall health and sleep are inexorably linked. Poor sleep quality will not only make you gain weight, but it will also make it harder for you to lose weight, even with exercise. Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. And no, you cannot make up for lost sleep during the weekend. Therefore, plan your day accordingly to get a good night’s rest without interruption.
If you have trouble sleeping at night, it’s highly recommended to consult with a doctor because you could be suffering from a sleep disorder. However, most people lack sleep because of bad lifestyle habits. Don’t stay up late going through YouTube playlists or watching TV. Eat on time, so you are not hungry when it’s bedtime.
Prepare your bedroom to be completely distraction free. That means getting rid of blue-light-emitting screens and blinking lights of electronic devices. The bedroom should be completely dark (not even night lights!) to facilitate sleep. Lower the temperature too, because that would help you fall asleep quicker.
Once your sleep cycle is normal, your weight loss journey will get much easier. The benefits of exercise and a healthy diet can be enjoyed more fully when your brain is well rested.