• Dance Masterclass
  • Fitness
  • Health
  • Wellbeing
  • 9
  • 0

The link between sleep and weight loss: What you need to know.

The link between sleep and weight loss: What you need to know.

Losing weight can be challenging, and keeping weight off can be just as difficult. Although the medical community is still untangling the complicated relationship between sleep and body weight, several potential studies have emerged that highlight the potential weight loss benefits of getting a good night’s rest and the negative health impacts of sleep deprivation.

In response to these new findings, many researchers began to hypothesize about potential connections between weight and sleep. Numerous studies have suggested that restricted sleep and poor sleep quality may lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain, and an increased risk of obesity and other chronic health conditions.

Can Lack of Sleep Increase Appetite?

One common hypothesis about the connection between weight and sleep involves how sleep affects appetite. While we often think of appetite as simply a matter of stomach grumbling, it’s actually controlled by neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that allow neurons (nerve cells) to communicate with one another.

The neurotransmitters ghrelin and leptin are thought to be central to appetite. Ghrelin promotes hunger, and leptin contributes to feeling full. The body naturally increases and decreases the levels of these neurotransmitters throughout the day, signaling the need to consume calories.

A lack of sleep may affect the body’s regulation of these neurotransmitters. In one study, men who got 4 hours of sleep had increased ghrelin and decreased leptin compared to those who got 10 hours of sleep. This dysregulation of ghrelin and leptin may lead to increased appetite and diminished feelings of fullness in people who are sleep deprived.

In addition, several studies have also indicated that sleep deprivation affects food preferences. Sleep-deprived individuals tend to choose foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates.

Other hypotheses regarding the connection between sleep and increased appetite involve the body’s endocannabinoid system and orexin, a neurotransmitter targeted by some sleep aids.

Does Sleep Increase Metabolism?

Metabolism is a chemical process in which the body converts what we eat and drink into energy needed to survive. All of our collective activities, from breathing to exercising and everything in between, is part of metabolism. While activities like exercise can temporarily increase metabolism, sleep cannot. Metabolism actually slows about 15% during sleep, reaching its lowest level in the morning.

In fact, many studies have shown that sleep deprivation (whether due to self-induction, insomnia, untreated sleep apnea, or other sleep disorders) commonly leads to metabolic dysregulation. Poor sleep is associated with increased oxidative stress, glucose (blood sugar) intolerance (a precursor to diabetes), and insulin resistance. Extra time spent awake may increase the opportunities to eat, and sleeping less may disrupt circadian rhythms, leading to weight gain.

How is Sleep Related to Physical Activity?

Losing sleep can result in having less energy for exercise and physical activity. Feeling tired can also make sports and exercising less safe, especially activities like weightlifting and or those requiring balance. While researchers are still working to understand this connection, it’s well known that exercise is essential to maintaining weight loss and overall health.

Getting regular exercise can improve sleep quality, especially if that exercise involves natural light. While even taking a short walk during the day may help improve sleep, more activity can have a more dramatic impact. Engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week can improve daytime concentration and decrease daytime sleepiness.

Tips for Quality Sleep During Weight Loss

There are many ways to improve sleep. Here are a few research-based tips for sleeping better when you’re trying to lose weight:

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule: Big swings in your sleep schedule or trying to catch up on sleep after a week of late nights can cause changes in metabolism and reduce insulin sensitivity, making it easier for blood sugar to be elevated.
  • Sleep in a dark room: Exposure to artificial light while sleeping, such as a TV or bedside lamp, is associated with an increased risk of weight gain and obesity.
  • Don’t eat right before bed: Eating late may reduce the success of weight loss attempts.
  • Reduce Stress: Chronic stress may lead to poor sleep and weight gain in several ways, including eating to cope with negative emotions.
  • Be an Early Bird: People with late bedtimes may consume more calories and be at a higher risk for weight gain. Early birds may be more likely to maintain weight loss when compared to night owls.

Leave a Reply