We know that sleep is essential for our well being, despite this, most of us are still not getting enough of it. But did you know, if you’re trying to lose weight, the amount of sleep you get may be just as important as your diet and exercise. Read on to learn how sleep and weight loss are connected and it may be impacting your ability to find your balanced weight.
Sleep and weight loss
Imagine two women you know: they both eat well and exercise regularly. One is thin, yet the other no matter how hard she tries she can’t maintain her focus. She struggles with her hunger, always craves sugary foods, and, despite her efforts in the gym, she doesn’t achieve the same results as someone else following the same program.
Maybe she’s lazy.
Maybe she strays from her meal plan.
Maybe she has no willpower and self-control.
Or, maybe it’s none of those things…
Sleep controls your diet
It could be between living your life, working, and exercising, you’re forgetting to sleep enough.
Sleep affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) levels. Chronic sleep deficiency has been seen to result in higher blood sugar levels. Eventually, this excess insulin ends up storing fat in all the wrong places, such as your liver.
Moreover, scientists have discovered exactly how sleep loss makes it nearly impossible to lose weight. When you don’t sleep enough, your cortisol levels rise. This is the stress hormone that is associated with weight gain around your stomach. Cortisol also activates reward centres in your brain that make you want food.
Most people believe that hunger is controlled by willpower and learning to control your appetite, but that’s incorrect. Hunger is controlled by two hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Without sufficient sleep, we risk our body’s ability to maintain a healthy balance of these hormones that make us feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When we don’t get enough sleep, our levels of ghrelin increase and our levels of leptin decrease. This makes us feel hungrier throughout the day than we might be if we were well-rested.
Lack of sleep also makes you crave foods high in sugar and fat. A study found that just one night of sleep deprivation was enough to impair activity in the frontal lobe, which controls complex decision-making. You don’t have the mental clarity to make good decisions, specifically with regards to the foods you eat. When you’re overtired, you also have increased activity in the amygdala, the reward region of your brain.
The bottom line: lack of sleep means you’re always hungry, hungry for bigger portions, and craving junk food and you don’t have the proper brain functioning to tell yourself, “No!”
What to do
When we’re getting good quality sleep (7-10 hours depending on the person) we digest and metabolise our food better. Fat stores are accessed and then burned off more efficiently. We also feel happier and more sociable.
In other words, good things happen when we get enough sleep! So let’s start prioritising more sleep.
Is sleep the missing factor to finding your balanced weight?