How Sleep and Weight Are Connected
What exactly is the relationship between sleep and weight, and how important is it?
We all want to look and feel our best. We want to feel good throughout the day, but we also want to love the way we look. And for most of us, that means losing a few pounds, and maybe even building up some lean muscle to achieve that ‘toned’ look that everyone seems to be striving for.
Most people have a knee-jerk response to the idea of achieving a healthier body-weight. If you want to lose weight, you’re supposed to move your body more and eat less, right?
Well, that may be true to an extent. But as it turns out, sleep has a lot more to do with this equation than a lot of people think. And the simple truth is that you may be sabotaging your weight-loss efforts by not getting enough of it!
Sleep and Weight Loss – a Positive or Negative Cycle
When you get adequate sleep, you are more likely to succeed at achieving and sustaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise than you are if you don’t get enough sleep. In fact, studies have shown that people who receive adequate rest burn about twice as much fat from dieting and exercise as those who do not.
According to one statistic, people who are sleep deprived experienced a 55% reduction in fat loss when compared to those who actually get adequate sleep.
In fact, some scientists say that sleep loss can make it nearly impossible to lose weight, mostly due to the fact that sleep loss is linked to higher levels of cortisol in your body… which is the stress hormone, but is also a hormone that is closely related to fat gain.
Cortisol tends to activate reward centers in the brain, which causes you to want to snack and eat more (you stress-eaters out there will know exactly what this feels like!).
But not getting enough sleep also triggers a rise in ghrelin, which is a hunger hormone. This makes you feel hungry more often, and can even trigger right after you have eaten.
Sleep Is Where the Cycle Starts
The tough thing about the cycle of sleep and weight is that it tends to perpetuate itself… and it all starts with sleep. If you get enough sleep, your diet and exercise efforts will be rewarded with better fat loss. This will make you feel better, will energize you, will make you healthier, and will actually, ironically, even help the quality of your sleep as well!
But if you don’t get enough sleep, you will likely have a tougher time maintaining your diet and exercise, because you will lack the proper focus and energy. Plus, even if you stick with them, the results won’t be as good, because you need adequate sleep to burn more fat.
This will make you feel tired, sluggish, and irritable. And what is even worse… this poorer state of health could even eventually threaten to hurt your sleep even more, because weight gain makes you more susceptible to snoring, etc.
So as you can see, this is a cycle that can absolutely perpetuate itself… which is why it is so important to get started off on the right foot with plenty of sleep.
Getting More Sleep Also Has Other Benefits
People who sleep adequately often have fewer food cravings. They also tend to make better choices about the foods that they do eat, have more energy for exercise, and tend to rely more on their body’s own energy than extra calories from snacks, sweets, and energy drinks.
Factor all of this together, and it does not come as a surprise that sleep is so vitally important to the process of maintaining a healthy body weight.