It’s recommended that we get at least 8 hours of sleep a night to make sure our body's function the way they should. Despite having this recommendation, many of us tend to brush it off. On average, Americans get only an estimated 6.8 hours of sleep a night. While you may think that you’re doing just fine getting less than 8 hours of sleep at night, it may be impacting your body more than you think; especially when it comes to your weight-loss journey. So why is prioritizing sleep important?
1. A poor sleep schedule can lead to an increased appetite
Sleep is the time that your body uses to rejuvenate itself. So, when this time is compromised, it can lead to a myriad of issues. For example, your hormone levels will not be as balanced as they should be. Ghrelin and Leptin are two important hunger hormones that play a massive role in your appetite. When you’re sleep deprived, more Grelin and less Leptin are produced. The high levels of Ghrelin can lead to an increased level of hunger, and lower Leptin levels make it less likely for you to feel satiated. Meaning you will not feel full very easily.
2. Lack of sleep is the enemy of exercise
Many studies have shown that poor sleep has been linked to a decrease of protein synthesis in the body. Protein synthesis is crucial in the formation of muscles. A lack of sleep can thus lead to a difficulty in gaining muscle, an increased risk of injury while working out, or even muscle loss. Your body will also need more time to recover from a workout when its running low on sleep This will make you feel exhausted for a longer-than-normal time post workout.
3. Less sleep increases cravings
When you sleep less, your brain’s frontal lobe is dulled. This means that you will experience lower levels of logical decision-making, and your impulses will be less controlled. Because of this, it is much easier for you to succumb to cravings. Additionally, being overtired energizes your brain’s reward centers, meaning that it will look for something that feels good. It is easier to reject food cravings when you’re well-rested but being sleep deprived makes it far more difficult to do so.
4. Your metabolism is less efficient when you are less well-rested
The Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is the amount of calories your body burns when it is at rest. In a study done by the National Institute of Health, it was found that “chronic sleep curtailment increases risk of developing obesity”. This means that when you sleep less, your RMR is negatively impacted - leading to less caloric burn when you’re sleeping. Additionally, poor sleep can cause muscle loss. Muscle burns calories, so when muscle is lost, your caloric burn is lowered as well.
5. Poor sleep can increase your resistance to insulin
Insulin is a hormone that regulates the sugar in your body. When there is high blood sugar in your body, insulin is released to decrease those levels. Insulin resistance is a condition when your body begins to ignore insulin’s signals, making it less effective. This can lead to a high levels of blood sugar in the body. One study has shown that the bodies of men who, on average, sleep less than the recommended 8 hours, have up to a 40% decreased ability to lower blood sugar levels.
In addition to eating and exercising, sleeping at least 8 hours a night is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight. Poor sleep inhibits your ability to properly respond to food. It is a vicious cycle; the less sleep you get, the more weight you can gain - and the more weight you gain, the less sleep you get.
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C, B. (2011). Acute sleep deprivation reduces energy expenditure in healthy men.
Chang, L. (2018, July 5). Sleep More, Weigh Less. Retrieved from WebMD:
Pullen, C. (2017, June 6). 7 Ways Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sleep-and-weight-loss