We are going to talk about an important factor that most people and weight loss programs often overlook and it might be the reason why you aren’t losing any weight even with slashing calories and exercising every single day of the week. So, are you getting enough sleep, like are you sleeping for 7 hours each night? Research says that sleeping for less than 5 hours even for a single night considerably increases your chances of gaining weight, particularly belly fat! Even though calorie-deficit diet and exercise are important factors that lead up to weight loss – sleep deprivation can completely “upset that apple cart” and do the exact opposite. In fact, if you are finding it extremely difficult to drop extra pounds and get lean in spite of diet and regular exercise, prioritize sleep over everything. Sleep deprivation has been strongly linked to weight gain, and ranks among the top 5 reasons you are not losing weight in the first place. As we have mentioned before, sleeping for less than 7 hours increases the risk of obesity, particularly belly fat (16 Extremely Delicious Food That Cause Belly Fat) and there are various studies to support this – one study found that sleeping for 5 hours each night over two weeks (even on a calorie-deficit diet), people had less fat loss compared to those who slept for 8 to 9 hours. In this post, we list down 14 reasons why sleep is important for weight loss.
But first let’s talk about sleep hormone “melatonin” and why it’s important to get a good night’s sleep:
Melatonin, the sleep hormone, enables one to have a good night’s sleep. Optimum levels of melatonin boosts metabolism, accelerates fat burning, and prevents insulin resistance. Our brain starts pumping out melatonin after sundown when the body is ready to go into the rest mode. However, exposure to blue light through gadgets (phone, tv, etc.) can disrupt the sleep-wake cycle, also called the circadian rhythm of the body, and cause disruption in melatonin release, severely affecting the quality of sleep. A disruption in circadian rhythm can trigger a lot of health problems – from insulin resistance to depression, and that’s why sleeping for at least 7 hours every night matters, from lowering stress to losing weight.
Why Good Sleep is of Great Importance For Losing Weight?
Even the best diet and hours of exercise will not help you with losing weight if you don’t get 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Sleep deprivation affects important hormones that are essential to lose weight. Low number of sleeping hours decreases leptin (satiety hormone), increases ghrelin (hunger hormone), and also shoots up cortisol (the stress hormone). Without enough sleep, these hormones will go out of whack, you would wake up with a slow metabolism and a ravenous appetite, making you crave for sugary and high-calorie foods because your brain is looking for instant energy to make up for the lack of sleep. Also, lack of sleep makes such food more pleasurable. Listing out them all one by one:
Low Sleeping Hours Will Hamper Weight Loss in these ways:
1. Increase Hunger Hormone “Ghrelin”: Low sleeping hours raises the level of ghrelin which in turn increases your hunger and appetite the next day.
2. Decreases Satiety Hormone “Leptin”: The appetite-regulating hormone “leptin” or satiety hormone as it is popularly called, slumps with sleeplessness.
3. Increase Cravings for Carb-Rich Food and Sweet Delights: Research has established that the areas of the brain that are responsible for reward are more active in their response to food after less number of shut eye compared to those who had slept better (7 to 8 hours).
4. Makes you Slangry: Not only would you wake up hangry (hungry + angry), sleep deprivation would also make you slangry (sleep deprived and hungry). If you are unable to control your appetite and are blaming it on lack of “will power,” please don’t, you need to get enough sleep, that’s it! (Always Hangry on a Weight Loss Diet? Here’s What you Should Do).
5. Insulin Resistance: Insulin, which is a blood sugar regulating hormone, also plays an active role in directing calories to be stored as glycogen and fat in muscles and tissues. When there is high amount of glucose circulating in the bloodstream on a steady basis, after a point, body cells become less responsive to the efforts of insulin. When that happens, all extra circulating glucose is directed to be stored as body fat. Chronic sleeplessness increases the risk of insulin resistance and slows down the rate at which one burns calories.
6. Increases Reward-Seeking Behaviour: As mentioned above, lack of sleep, lights up your brain’s rewards center in response to food – in simple words – you would have to muster a huge amount of will power to say “no” to that second slice of pizza!
7. Increases Stress Hormone Cortisol: Now, here’s the double whammy – sleep deprivation also increases the level of stress hormone “cortisol,” which causes weight gain, stalls weight loss, and increases belly fat.
8. Difficult To Practice Self Control: Furthermore, lack of sleep dulls out activity of the brain’s frontal lobe, which is responsible for decision-making and impulse control, which means even though you know that decadent piece of red velvet cake is high in calories and not good for weight loss, you still would go ahead and have it!
9. Increases Chances of Night-Time Snacking: Since you are staying awake for the major part of night, your cravings for night-time snacking, junk food, and stuff high in calories, refined carbs, unhealthy fat increases.
10. Dip in Metabolism: The main reason behind a sluggish metabolism – lack of sleep!
11. Dip in Fat Oxidation: Insufficient sleep can dip down fat oxidation and fat metabolism – which means less chances of fat getting converted into energy, and harder for the body to melt away excess fat.
12. Decreases Muscle Synthesis: Those of you dreaming of building up muscles and biceps – there’s a latest study that shows that sleep deprivation can reduce muscle protein synthesis by 18%!
13. Too Exhausted For Exercise the Next Day: This is an obvious outcome – since you would wake up low on energy the next day, it would be really hard to gather the motivation to workout and exercise.
14. Increases Cravings for High-Carb Foods: Low number of sleeping hours enhances the hedonic stimulus processing in the brain leading to increased food intake.
To Get a good night’s sleep – stay away from blue light one hour before sleep because exposure to light and blue light from gadgets can disturb the circadian rhythm of the body. Also, make it a point to eat at least two to three hours before sleep because having dinnertime and bedtime too close to each other keeps the digestive system active and prevents you from having a good night’s sleep. Also, calories from the food wouldn’t get utilized at all because the metabolism is low, and most of it would get stored as fat in the body. Also, have your cup of coffee or green tea a few hours before hitting the sack.
Do check out the Rati Beauty diet to lose weight successfully and keep it off forever.