If you are trying to lose weight then you might want to look at one area that may be detracting from your weight loss efforts - sleep.
Many of us are not getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. And when you do the quality of that sleep can be poor so it’s not benefiting you as much as it should.
Poor sleep can contribute to weight gain and unfortunately, the reverse is also true.
Obesity can lead to poor sleep quality. Let’s first look at the negative effects of obesity on quality sleep, and then we’ll discover how poor sleep, in turn, affects weight.
First, let’s look at how obesity can affect sleep quality.
Getting a good night’s sleep becomes increasingly difficult when you’re overweight. This is because obesity directly affects one’s breathing.
Excess fat can accumulate around the neck, stomach, near airways, or at the base of the tongue. When this happens: airways can collapse, there is decreased lung capacity, and breathing is interrupted.
When these interruptions happen during sleep, problems like snoring, shallow sleep syndrome (sleep apnea), or even hypoventilation arise.
While snoring may not seem like a big deal, it is actually an indication that while you are sleeping, your airways are experiencing some kind of obstruction.
While such an obstruction could be caused by things like enlarged adenoids or a deviated septum, when obesity is the culprit, obstructions in the airways lead to worsened conditions.
Eventually, when air flow is impeded, a person can experience times during sleep when their breathing becomes extremely shallow or stops altogether (anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes).
These breaks in breathing or moments of shallow breathing are called apnea. Thus we get the common phrase, sleep apnea.
If this condition worsens, these disruptions in breathing during sleep can cause what is known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome.
This occurs when pauses in breathing at night become so severe that a person has difficulty appropriately breathing out carbon dioxide even into the daytime hours.
Besides the obvious decline in sleep quality, both sleep apnea and obesity hypoventilation syndrome can lead to trouble with memory, mood and concentration, daytime sleepiness, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular problems.
And, as we mentioned earlier...sleep quality in turn affects your ability to lose weight. We’ll look at some of the ways that lack of sleep and poor sleep quality affect weight loss.
Getting enough sleep each night can actually help you reduce and resist cravings.
This is because a lack of sleep can actually mess with your head. No, really...it can!
Sleep deprivation affects both the frontal lobe of your brain and areas within the brainstem. It also dysregulated appetite hormones and increases hunger.
Within the frontal lobe, brain activity is actually diminished with a lack of sleep. Since this section of your brain is associated with discipline or restraint, not getting enough sleep makes you less likely to be able to resist indulging in foods that will derail your weight loss efforts.
Your brainstem houses what are referred to as the reward centers of your brain.
When you skimp on sleep, these reward centers are actually stimulated. And, when this happens, well, you just want that candy bar you view as a treat all the more. And aside from the calories involved, eating this type of food can lead to blood sugar imbalances which can trigger even more cravings.
When you don’t get enough sleep your metabolism can slow down. Sleep loss or lower quality sleep = reduced growth hormone production that reduces muscle and thus slows metabolism.
This means that you’re not burning as many calories at rest as you would when fully rested. Much of this is related to hormone effects of not getting enough sleep.
Without proper sleep metabolism is disrupted. This is especially true if you don’t get enough REM sleep.
Greater Calorie Consumption
When we don’t sleep well and don’t sleep enough, those added waking hours can lead to added eating time.
One study involving men found that those only getting 4 hours of sleep per night compared to nights where they got 8 hours of sleep, consumed nearly 600 additional calories the day after those sleepless nights.
And, how often are you guilty of skipping sleep to watch a little extra television? I mean, you’ve worked all day, dinner is over, and it’s time to relax, right?
After dinner, and in front of the television are two of the most common times when people consume extra calories.
Skipping those television sessions at night and opting for added sleep time can aid you in your weight loss journey.
Insufficient sleep can obviously leave you feeling tired throughout the day. And, who feels like exercising when they’re tired?
So what though, right? You’re in this to win it! You’re pushing towards your weight loss goals come hell or high water.
Except, without adequate sleep, you might have noticed that even those workout sessions tire you out more than usual.
Studies show that reduction in sleep times leads to a decrease in both duration and intensity of exercise.
On the flip side of that, another study revealed that added sleep times (10 hours per night in this study) improved physical activity.
Making sleep a priority will improve your motivation to exercise and your ability to push yourself to do your best during those workout sessions, thus aiding in weight loss. And exercise can help to improve your sleep as long as it's not too close to bedtime.
Lack of sleep can cause great changes to your body at the hormonal level. Let’s take a closer look at all the hormones involved: (Click here to find out more about hormones and weight gain)
Leptin, a hormone that is involved in appetite suppression, is decreased when you don’t get enough sleep.
Ghrelin, a hormone involved in making you feel hungry, is increased when you’re sleep deprived.
Cortisol, often termed the stress hormone, is also increased from lack of sleep, and thus causes an increase in hunger.
Growth hormone (HGH) is released while you sleep and it’s release is affected by poor sleep. If your HGH levels are low you are more likely to gain fat and lose muscle.
What can you do?
“Trying” to get more sleep is probably not going to help, but there are things that you can do to improve your sleep:
Create a bedtime routine
Go to bed earlier
Get some exercise during the day
Eat a diet that helps to promote better sleep
Turn your phone to airplane mode to stop EMF’s which will lead to a deeper sleep