Have you been following a healthy diet and staying on schedule with your fitness routine, yet still can’t lose weight? One possible reason may be the lack of sleep.
Imagine this: You find yourself too sleepy at work to concentrate, and then end up having a cup of coffee (over several) along with a frosted doughnut for instant energy. You then skip the gym and order takeout as you have no energy to cook. When you get into bed, all the caffeine and sugar you had throughout the day finally caught up and you are wide awake to sleep even.
This vicious cycle eventually leads to sleep deprivation and all that comes with it to sabotage any healthy habits and your waistline. The lack of sleep causes you to run low on energy which ultimately leads you to grab a candy bar or a bag of chips nearby.
More and more evidence proves that not getting enough sleep can cause a hormonal shift that boosts appetite and hunger – particularly for sugar and high-carb foods. Recently, Eve Van Cauter, a professor at the University of Chicago, found that when 12 men in their 20s were given the instructions to sleep only 4 hours a night for two days, they had reported a 25% increase in hunger. Cauter also noted that the levels of hormone leptin – which sends messages of satiation to the brain – had an 18% decrease.
Consider your sleep debt like a credit card debt. Once you accumulate debt, you will have to start paying high-interest rates or your body will begin to shut down. Once you acquire too much sleep debt, your body will begin to crash.
The Connection of Sleep and Your Weight
Lack of sleep is quite common for adults. The connection also suggests that you can also lose weight while sleeping. Though it is not due to getting plenty of sleep that causes you to reduce weight, rather the sleep deprivation is what causes your body not to function properly and slow your metabolism down. Our body needs an average of at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. It is also said that if you are already getting proper sleep, another hour will not help you lose weight, but you will start dropping weight if you are usually a 5-hour sleeper and getting 8 hours of sleep a night.
The ability to lose weight has a lot to do with your hormones. Leptin and Ghrelin are two key hormones that tell you when to eat. When you become sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin, while Leptin tells you when to stop. When you become sleep-deprived, you develop less leptin. This results with less leptin and more ghrelin – causing weight gain. Why? Sleep deprivation slows down your metabolism and causes you to eat more. Another contributing factor is how the lack of sleep leads to fatigue and less energy for physical activity.
How to Improve Your Sleep
To start, you must avoid anything with caffeine after 4 pm as it will prevent you from entering the deep stages of sleep. Following an exercise regime will also help improve the quality of your sleep. While exercises before bed are not exactly recommended, it depends on the person’s schedule as well as how important it is that you exercise rather than when you exercise.
It is also important to watch your bedtime snacks as eating a big meal may also keep you up. You can have healthy snacks if you are feeling hungry – such as a bowl of cereal. Eating heavy meals before bedtime will also increase the risk of heartburn, leaving you feeling uncomfortable and awake all night.
According to health news, Experts say that over 70% of adults get less than 8 hours of sleep while 40% get less than 7 hours. It is recommended that most people should have between 7-8 hours of sleep each night to help lower the risk of weight gain. If you have trouble falling asleep, natural sleep aids will help put an end to insomnia and even help improve your sleeping habits in the long term. Consider natural remedies such as non-caffeinated tea and milk or light activities such as yoga or Pilates.