Trying to lose weight? Make sure you’re getting enough zzz’s!
Research has found that women who get 7 hours of sleep generally weigh less than women who get 5 or less hours per night. Other research found a 55% higher likelihood of obesity in adults, and a whopping 89% higher likelihood in children.
Even just a few hours of sleep deficit over the course of a week can have a major impact on functioning, including hunger and satiation hormones, blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, and stress. Sleep deprivation may also have a negative impact on the body’s basal metabolic rate, which is the number of calories the body burns when at rest, and may also increase the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn can also increase hunger.
How exactly does sleep impact weight and eating habits?
Hunger and Satiation Hormones
Sleep has a big impact on our hunger and cravings. Specifically on our hunger hormones, ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and leptin, our fullness or satiation hormone. When we aren’t getting adequate sleep, ghrelin increases, and leptin decreases. The result: we end up feeling hungrier, it takes more food for us to feel full, and we tend to have more cravings.
Sleep deprivation also impacts the stress hormone, cortisol. Lack of sleep triggers a spike in cortisol, which in turn signals the body to conserve energy. This basically means the body is more likely to hold onto fat.
Blood Sugar and Insulin Sensitivity
Lack of sleep can also lead to insulin resistance, impairment of the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates and process glucose, and increased risk of diabetes. This obviously has dangerous implications besides contributing weight gain.
Sleep deprivation also reduces growth hormone levels, and can increase blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, when we’re overtired, the brain’s reward centers amp up. Translated: it wreaks havoc on our “willpower.” One study found that people who didn’t get enough sleep were much more likely to eat larger portions, crave more high-carbohydrate foods, and snack more late at night. Also, what are the chances you’re going to stick to your workout regimen if you’re dragging from lack of sleep?
The take-home: sleep is vital to our health and well-being, including maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, and promoting cognitive function.
If you’re someone who struggles to get enough sleep, try these tips and tricks:
Turn off electronics one hour before bed - including your television, computer, and cell phone
Leave work and television out of the bedroom
Create a bedtime ritual to help you relax
Avoid eating heavy meals close to bedtime
Wake up and go to sleep around the same time everyday
Avoid caffeine after 2pm
Turn the lights low or off altogether - this cues a release of melatonin, the natural sleep hormone
Sleep is integr