If you’re trying to shed a few pounds, perhaps you’ve adopted a regimen of eating correctly and exercising regularly. In some cases, though, you may notice that the scale numbers still aren’t moving in the direction you’d like because of a lack of sleep. Keep reading to discover some of the compelling reasons why getting good sleep could help you get and stay slim.
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Sleep Deprivation May Trigger Mindless Eating
When people don’t get enough sleep, they may be prone to eating things that aren’t healthy. Often, that’s because the slumber shortage has made them feel grumpy, and they think they’ll feel better by snacking on junk food.
If that mindset sounds like one you can relate to, remember that although the snacking may tame your cravings on a short-term basis, it could also make it harder to continually lose weight and shed those last few stubborn pounds.
Furthermore, there are two hormones released at night which have an effect on how much we feel like eating. They’re called ghrelin and leptin. The first is responsible for signaling the body that it’s time to eat, but people who don’t get enough sleep have more ghrelin produced, which means they may eat when it’s not really necessary.
Also, leptin is a hormone that tells the body to stop eating. As you may have guessed, people who don’t sleep enough tend to have less leptin in their bodies, which may mean they have trouble regulating the amount they eat at each sitting.
The excess or lack of these two hormones is what causes some nutritionists to caution that people may have drastically different experiences with weight loss despite keeping similar exercise and dietary habits. Statistics say more than a quarter of the population is sleep deprived.
Also, obesity is another common problem across the globe. When you consider the hormonal connection between getting slumber and becoming slimmer, the statistics may not seem as questionable.
A Lack Of Sleep Affects How The Body Uses Insulin
You’ve probably heard insulin mentioned in relation to diabetes, but may not have considered how it relates to losing weight. When insulin is functioning as it should, it removes fatty acids and lipids from the blood and regulates how the body stores fat. However, scientists have discovered that after only four days of sleep deprivation, insulin performance begins to become compromised.
Over time, a condition called insulin resistance can develop, when the body creates more insulin than it needs and starts to store fat improperly in places such as the liver. Once that begins happening, weight gain is more common. And yes, you may develop diabetes too.
This might have been the first time you’ve been made aware of how insulin is associated with weight, but it’s especially important information to keep in mind, especially because it doesn’t take a lot of sleep deprivation to trigger problems. Ordinarily, you may think that several consecutive days of sleep deprivation won’t cause harm, but studies refute that belief.
Less Sleep, Fewer Muscles
At the same time that they aim to lose weight, many people try to get bulkier muscles. In addition to making them stronger overall, visible muscles are frequently seen as very attractive especially in areas of the body such as the stomach and arms.
However, scientists have conducted research and found that when people don’t get adequate sleep, their bodies are not as able to promote protein synthesis, which causes muscular growth. The majority of the protein gets released during slow-wave sleep, but people who habitually don’t sleep well are not as able to get into a slow-wave state.
Furthermore, people who aren’t getting enough sleep tend to produce more of a stress hormone called cortisol. It also affects the protein synthesis that’s necessary for muscles to grow.
Additionally, if you characteristically don’t get enough sleep, it becomes more likely that your motivation to go to the gym will suffer. Before long, you may find you’re more interested in hitting the snooze button than the stair climber, and you’ll have to retrain yourself to make going to the gym a habit again.
Besides the lack of motivation you’ll probably feel by not getting enough sleep, tiredness may affect you so you’re more likely to make potentially dangerous errors. They might range from putting the treadmill on the wrong incline setting or not watching your step as you navigate an outdoor trail.
In the best case scenario, these blunders are just frustrating, but they may also put you at risk for fatigue-based injuries that derail your muscle-building plans altogether.
Sleep Deprivation Slows Metabolism
The body’s metabolism naturally slows during periods of sleep deprivation so it can conserve energy. Because of that phenomenon, you may have to end up working harder to get the kinds of weight loss results you want. Some experts argue that a slow metabolism alone does not usually cause weight gain, but there are several other metabolism-related factors that connect to sleep.
For example, if you don’t have very much muscle, your metabolism won’t be as fast. As was already explained, not sleeping enough could make it harder than normal to build muscle. Also, physical activity is the most variable factor that determines how many calories you burn each day.
If you are so tired that all you want to do is sit on the couch and rarely engage in exercise, it will be very hard for your metabolism to burn the necessary amount of calories for weight loss.
What You Can Do To Sleep Better
By now, you should have a firm grasp on the various reasons why it may be harder to lose weight if you do not sleep enough. However, if you’re like many people, getting enough sleep is perpetually difficult. There are several things you can do to encourage your body to drift into a sleep state faster.
For starters, try to reserve your bed as a place that’s just for sleeping and intimacy. If you get into habits like eating in bed or doing work there, it will probably be harder for your body to transition from those activities into slumber.
Also, avoid exposure from electronics like computers and smartphones. The light they emit is especially disruptive to the body’s natural rhythms.
If you find that difficulty sleeping is due to racing thoughts, consider writing those musings down in a journal before bed or talking them over with a friend. Both activities are sometimes enough to reshape your perspective so you realize even the most pressing problems aren’t so severe that you can’t wait until morning to begin solving them again.
If you have consistent problems with losing weight, getting good quality sleep, or both, consider meeting with a healthcare provider. They may be able to give useful insight that you had not thought of before and perhaps offer ways to help you track your progress so you remain motivated.