Losing weight is difficult, and keeping it off can be even more difficult. Although the medical community is still unraveling the complicated relationship between sleep and body weight, several potential links have emerged that highlight the potential weight loss benefits of getting a good night's rest and the negative health effects of sleep deprivation.
We all require sleep, but we frequently fail to prioritize it. Getting less than the recommended amount of sleep each night can increase your risk of developing certain health problems, such as obesity.
But what is it about sleep duration — or lack thereof — that may contribute to weight gain?
Let's go over the science behind how your sleep habits affect your ability to lose weight, how sleep deprivation affects your appetite and the advantages of good sleep hygiene.
The Relationship Between Sleep and Weight
The amount of time Americans spend sleeping has steadily decreased over the last several decades. During much of the same time period, the average BMI of Americans increased, indicating a trend toward higher body weights and higher rates of obesity.
As a result of these trends, many researchers began to speculate about possible links between weight and sleep. Numerous studies have suggested that sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality can lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain, and an increased risk of obesity and other chronic health problems.
While the exact nature of this relationship is still being debated in the medical community, existing research indicates a positive correlation between good sleep and healthy body weight.
There is still much to learn about the intricate details of how sleep and weight are linked. Several hypotheses suggest future research directions, with the hope that a better understanding of the relationship between weight and sleep will lead to less obesity and better weight-loss methods.
Lack of sleep and your appetite
Adults who get enough sleep at night have better control over their cravings and appetite than adults who have sleepless nights on a regular basis. This is due to the fact that the less sleep you get, the more your hormones that regulate hunger are negatively affected.
These hunger hormones are known as leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you when you're full, so if it's not working properly, you won't always know if you're satisfied and have eaten enough. Ghrelin is a hormone that is released from your stomach and tells your brain that you are hungry. The normal regulation of these hormones is disrupted by a lack of quality sleep. When your hormones are out of whack, it's difficult to tell whether you're truly hungry.
While managing your weight may appear difficult, the good news is that there are things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep.
Sleep deprivation and cravings
You are not alone if you find it difficult to say no to less nutritious foods when you are sleep-deprived.
A lack of sleep can increase your desire to eat more high-calorie foods while decreasing your ability to resist them.
Researchers discovered that lack of sleep altered levels of endocannabinoids, which are chemical signals that affect your appetite and your brain's reward system.
This was most noticeable on sleep-deprived days when endocannabinoid levels were both higher and lasted longer, especially in the afternoon.
Exercise and sleep deprivation
Exercise is essential for both losing weight and staying healthy. However, if you aren't getting enough sleep, you might not have the energy to get moving.
Although research on sleep loss and energy expenditure is limited, sleepiness and fatigue tend to increase sedentary behavior. This, in turn, is likely to lead to less exercise and physical activity.
Is it possible to get too much sleep?
While getting enough quality sleep is essential, sleeping too much can throw the body's biological clock off track.
There is also a link between weight gain and sleeping too much, according to research. Oversleeping, like not getting enough sleep, can increase the risk of obesity.
It may appear to be a lot to process, but if you get six to eight hours of quality sleep per night, you're on the right track.
Tips for Quality Sleep During Weight Loss
There are numerous methods for improving sleep. Here are a few research-backed tips for getting better sleep while dieting:
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule: Large swings in your sleep schedule, or attempting to catch up on sleep after a week of late nights, can cause metabolic changes and reduce insulin sensitivity, making it easier for blood sugar to become elevated.
- Sleep in a dark room: Exposure to artificial light while sleeping, such as a television or bedside lamp, has been linked to an increased risk of weight gain and obesity.
- Don't eat right before going to bed: Eating late may reduce the success of your weight loss efforts.
- Reduce Stress: Chronic stress can contribute to poor sleep and weight gain in a variety of ways, including eating to cope with negative emotions.
- Be an Early Bird: People who sleep late may consume more calories and are more likely to gain weight. When compared to night owls, early birds may be more likely to maintain weight loss.
The Bottom Line
Now that you understand how sleep affects your ability to maintain a healthy weight, take steps to improve your sleep quality. As you make more time for sleep, you will be able to get more of it. Proper nutrition and exercise go hand in hand with getting enough sleep. You will also get more out of your workouts if you get enough sleep because your body will be able to recover properly. Sticking to a sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine before bed, and reducing stress can all help you lose weight and keep it off.