The Importance of Sleep for Weight Loss
Let’s get real - we all struggle with our weight. Throughout our lives, our body weight fluctuates and many of us end up in a weight range that we’re simply not comfortable in. We all want to feel like our best self, and while that feeling should not rely solely on one’s weight, the reality is that our weight plays a huge role in our happiness and confidence. But, more importantly, weight plays a monumental role in our health. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is essential for a long lasting and healthy life as it improves our mood, boosts confidence, and reduces the risk of developing serious health problems, like heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
For anyone working towards weight loss, we’ve got some pretty important information: sleep plays just as big of a role in your weight as diet and exercise. While this may come as a surprise, the link between sleep and weight has been well proven and the medical community is well aware of the monumental role sleep can play in both weight loss and weight gain.
Why is a good night’s sleep important in weight loss?
Sleep is one of the key components in a healthy lifestyle - especially if you’re trying to lose weight. While you sleep, your brain starts to work overtime to maintain a state of homeostasis within your body. During this process, your body produces a long list of necessary hormones, many of which directly control your metabolism, appetite, and glucose levels.
There is a never-ending list of harmful side effects that occur when you lose sleep, even if it’s just from a single night of sleeplessness. When you don’t receive the 7 to 9 hours of sleep you need, your mind and body begin to deteriorate and all the necessary biological functions that sleep ensures come to a screeching halt.
To understand how sleep loss affects our weight, Mattress Advisor called on the expertise of registered dietician and founder of Triangle Nutrition Therapy, Dr. Tracy Owens. According to Dr. Owens, sleep deprivation will affect your waistline in the following ways:
Sleep loss makes you more susceptible to overeating
When you don’t receive enough sleep, your body stops regulating production of the hormones that affect your satiation levels and hunger, such as leptin and ghrelin.
- Leptin is responsible for your body feeling full. Sleep loss causes a decrease in leptin production - this means that the more sleep you lose, the less full you feel after eating.
- Ghrelin, on the other hand, is the hunger hormone - and it increases as you lose sleep, leaving you feeling hungrier and hungrier.
The decrease in leptin and increase in ghrelin that result from sleep loss means that you’re cooking up a sure fire way to gain weight!
Sleep loss causes fat buildup
Studies show that people who get less than six hours of sleep are far more likely to gain weight than those receiving a good night’s sleep. This is likely due to the effect sleep loss has on glucose and insulin levels. Individuals who receive less than six hours of sleep show glucose and insulin levels similar to diabetics - even if they are otherwise in great health. When this occurs, fat cells lose their ability to use insulin properly. Over time, your body becomes resistant to insulin and must produce more and more to function - consequently, this leads to a buildup of fat cells and even chronic diseases such as diabetes.
Sleep loss impacts metabolic function
Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” increases as you lose sleep. Cortisol plays a key role in many of the body’s important functions, so it is critical that our body produces the proper amount of this hormone. Unfortunately, over secretion of cortisol can lead to a dysregulated metabolism, which ends up causing weight gain along with other metabolic conditions. In addition, elevated cortisol levels are thought to induce insulin resistance, a leading risk factor for metabolic syndrome, obesity, and diabetes.
To put it simply, a good night’s sleep is critical in weight loss. And, even for those not trying to lose weight, making light of your sleep health can ultimately result in weight gain. Thankfully, it is never too late to address your sleep habits. So, if you want to live a long and healthy life, and reach and maintain your target weight, make sure you start taking steps to ensure that you are receiving enough quality sleep each night.
Contributed by the writers at Mattress Advisor