Sleep is one of my most favorite past-times and one that I don’t indulge in as much as I want, and I’m certainly not alone in this, but maybe it’s time to take another crack at prioritizing “proper” sleep as a way to shed a few unwanted pounds.
I know you are thinking of the of the obvious reasons that a good night’s sleep can potentially help you lose weight. No sleep leads to no energy, which leads to no workout, which leads to the doldrums and a king sized Snickers bar, so let’s all get enough rest, right? Why this may be true, there are other biochemical reasons.
Getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep is what most people need in order to rejuvenate. And while swigging down a triple latte and donut may artificially give you a boost of energy, your body isn’t fooled. When you don’t get enough sleep, there are three very important reactions that occur.
- The first is that your body makes too much of the hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin’s job is to let our brain know when it is time to eat. This is a good hormone to have when everything is functionally properly. However, lack of sleep triggers the production of more ghrelin, resulting in more cravings.
- While inadequate sleep increases ghrelin on the one hand, it also has the consequence of decreasing the hormone leptin on the other. Leptin is the hormone that tells your brain when you’ve had enough. When leptin levels are low, your brain doesn’t get the message.
- Although the combination of too much ghrelin and too little leptin can have an undesirable effect on our waistline, this is compounded by a third hormone imbalance, cortisol. Too little sleep triggers higher levels of this stress hormone and signals your body to conserve energy. Basically, your body goes into survival mode and holds on to stored fat to be used for energy later.
Researchers found that when dieters cut back on sleep over a 14-day period, the amount of weight they lost from fat dropped by 55%, even though they ate the same amount of calories. They felt hungrier and less full after meals, and they had very little energy.
According to University of Chicago researchers, lack of sleep makes you “metabolically groggy,”. Within just 4 days of insufficient sleep, your body’s ability to process insulin, a hormone needed to change sugar, starches, and other food into energy, goes down drastically. Insulin sensitivity went down by more than 30% which is very bad news. When your body doesn’t respond properly to insulin, your body has trouble processing fats from your bloodstream, so it ends up storing them as fat.
So if you change to getting enough sleep, your body can get better control of the metabolism and you can lose weight more effectively.
If you are like me, you WANT to sleep more, but there are a million-and-one reasons why you don’t. Some of us bring our work home with us and work late into the night. Some of us are busy parents and just don’t get everything done until the kids are off to bed. Some of us just plain ol’ have trouble sleeping. Check out our article 13 tips for better sleep naturally to give you a kick start in the right direction. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort.
Your belly will thank you for it :-).