When trying to lose weight, the amount of sleep a person gets may be just as important as their diet and exercise.
A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health and it’s just as important as eating healthy and exercising.
However, unfortunately, the Western environment is interfering with people’s natural sleep patterns.
People are now sleeping less than they did in the past and their sleep quality has decreased as well. Many people aren’t getting enough sleep. In fact, about 30% of adults are sleeping fewer than six hours most nights, according to a study of US adults.
There’s mounting evidence showing that sleep may be the missing factor for many people who are struggling to lose weight.
Here are eight of the many reasons why getting enough sleep may help you lose weight.
1. Poor Sleep Is a Major Risk Factor for Weight Gain and Obesity
Poor sleep has repeatedly been linked to a higher body mass index (BMI) and weight gain.
People’s sleep requirements vary, but, generally speaking, research has observed changes in weight when people get fewer than seven hours of sleep a night.
A major review found that short sleep duration increased the likelihood of obesity by 89% in children and 55% in adults.
People with short sleep duration tend to weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep.
In fact, short sleep duration is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity.
The effect of sleep on weight gain is believed to be caused by numerous factors, including hormones and motivation to exercise so if you’re trying to lose weight, getting quality sleep is absolutely crucial. Poor sleep can cause weight gain, which can cause sleep quality to decrease even further.
2. Poor Sleep Can Increase Your Appetite
Many studies have found that people who are sleep-deprived report having an increased appetite and that is likely caused by the impact of sleep on two important hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin is a hormone released in the stomach that signals hunger in the brain. Levels are high before you eat, which is when the stomach is empty, and low after you eat
Leptin is a hormone released from fat cells. It suppresses hunger and signals fullness in the brain.
When you do not get adequate sleep, the body makes more ghrelin and less leptin, leaving you hungry and increasing your appetite.
In addition, the hormone cortisol is higher when you do not get adequate sleep. Cortisol is a stress hormone that may also increase appetite
3. Sleep Helps You Fight Cravings and Increase Your Will Power to Make Healthy Choices
Lack of sleep actually alters the way your brain works. This may make it harder to make healthy choices and resist tempting foods.
Sleep deprivation will actually dull activity in the frontal lobe of the brain. The frontal lobe is in charge of decision-making and self-control. In addition, it appears that the reward centers of the brain are more stimulated by food when you are sleep deprived.
Therefore, after a night of poor sleep, not only is that bowl of ice cream more rewarding, but you’ll likely have a harder time practicing self-control.
Poor sleep can decrease your self-control and decision-making abilities and can increase the brain’s reaction to food. Poor sleep has also been linked to increased intake of foods high in calories, fats and carbs.
4. Getting a Good Night Sleep Can Improve Concentration and Productivity
Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function. This includes cognition, concentration, productivity and performance. All of these are negatively affected by sleep deprivation.
A study on medical interns provides a good example.
Interns on a traditional schedule with extended work hours of more than 24 hours made 36% more serious medical errors than interns on a schedule that allowed more sleep.
Studies have also found that short sleep can negatively impact some aspects of brain function to a similar degree as alcohol intoxication
On the other hand, good sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and enhance memory performance of both children and adults.
Good sleep can maximize problem-solving skills and enhance memory. Poor sleep has been shown to impair brain function.
It’s known that sleep quality and duration can have a major effect on many health risk factors. These are the factors believed to drive chronic diseases, including heart disease.
A review of 15 studies found that people who don’t get enough sleep are at far greater risk of heart disease or stroke than those who sleep 7–8 hours per night.
6. Poor Sleep May Decrease Your Resting Metabolism
Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the number of calories your body burns when you’re completely at rest. It’s affected by age, weight, height, sex and muscle mass.
Research indicates that sleep deprivation may lower your RMR .
In one study, 15 men were kept awake for 24 hours. Afterward, their RMR was 5% lower than after a normal night’s rest, and their metabolic rate after eating was 20% lower.
On the contrary, some studies have found no changes in metabolism with sleep loss. Therefore, more research is needed to determine if and how sleep loss slows metabolism. It also seems that poor sleep can cause muscle loss. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does, so when muscle is lost, resting metabolic rates decrease.
One study put 10 overweight adults on a 14-day diet of moderate calorie restriction. Participants were allowed either 8.5 or 5.5 hours to sleep. Both groups lost weight from both fat and muscle, but the ones who were given only 5.5 hours to sleep lost less weight from fat and more from muscle.
7. Poor Sleep Is Linked to Increased Inflammation
Sleep can have a major effect on inflammation in your body.
In fact, sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage. Poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, in disorders known as inflammatory bowel diseases.
One study observed that sleep-deprived people with Crohn’s disease were twice as likely to relapse as patients who slept well.
Researchers are even recommending sleep evaluation to help predict outcomes in individuals with long-term inflammatory issues.
People with epilepsy suffer the issues of lack of sleep. When lack of sleep is combined with stress their chances of having a seizure are multiplied.
8. Sleep Affects Emotions and Social Interactions
Sleep loss reduces your ability to interact socially.
Several studies confirmed this using emotional facial recognition tests. One study found that people who had not slept had a reduced ability to recognize expressions of anger and happiness.
Researchers believe that poor sleep affects your ability to recognize important social cues and process emotional information.
So you see, Sleep deprivation may reduce your social skills and ability to recognize people’s emotional expressions.
The Bottom Line
Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health.
You simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.