At what times do you usually go to sleep? At what times do you normally wake up? Do you know whether you snore? How would you describe your energy level on an average day? These are vital questions to ask if you think you are suffering from sleep deprivation or its associate harmful impacts.
Good quality sleep restores your body physically, mentally, and emotionally. When you have adequate sleep, it enhances the progress of learning, helping your brain to concentrate and retain information, and it gives your brain the much-needed rest from the hustle and bustle of a modern chaotic lifestyle.
The Sleep-Weight Relationship
A new public health crisis in sleep insufficiency is on the rise due to our hectic lifestyles. Far too many people sleep fewer hours than they should. Medical disorders that interfere with sleep and diseases associated with metabolic irregularities like obesity and diabetes have been linked with sleep loss.
Dietitians and medical experts who work with clients or patients suffering from weight problems or obesity can begin to evaluate the sleep habits of their patients using this association between sleep and weight control. This can result in significant solutions that will give overweight patients a clear path to better health.
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So if you’re wondering: will sleep help me lose weight? Well, the answer to that is definitely an emphatic yes! Sleeping less on a regular basis can really affect your weight negatively. Medical terminologies aside, let’s take a quick look at how all that less sleep and weight gain happens.
How Your Sleep Affects Metabolism
The impact of sleep on metabolism is a crucial aspect of overall health and weight management. Sleep deprivation can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones involved in regulating appetite, energy expenditure, and glucose metabolism, leading to various metabolic changes that can contribute to weight gain and the development of diseases like diabetes.
One of the key hormones affected by sleep deprivation is cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone. When you don’t get enough sleep, cortisol levels tend to increase. Elevated cortisol levels can stimulate the breakdown of muscle tissue and promote the storage of fat, particularly in the abdominal area. This can lead to weight gain and an increased risk of metabolic disorders.
Sleep deprivation has been shown to impair insulin sensitivity
Insulin, another hormone closely linked to metabolism, plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels. Sleep deprivation has been shown to impair insulin sensitivity, which means that your body’s cells become less responsive to the effects of insulin. As a result, your body has trouble efficiently converting glucose into energy, leading to higher blood sugar levels and an increased risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Leptin and ghrelin
Furthermore, sleep deprivation can disrupt the balance of two key appetite-regulating hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is responsible for signaling feelings of fullness, while ghrelin stimulates appetite. When you don’t get enough sleep, levels of leptin decrease, leading to reduced satiety and increased hunger, while levels of ghrelin increase, stimulating appetite. This hormonal imbalance can result in overeating, cravings for high-calorie and fatty foods, and difficulties in controlling food intake, ultimately contributing to weight gain and metabolic dysregulation.
Your brain’s reward centers
Additionally, sleep deprivation affects the brain’s reward centers, making food, especially high-calorie and palatable foods, more appealing. Sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to choose unhealthy foods and consume larger portions, further exacerbating the negative effects on metabolism and weight management.
Your brain “feeds” on sleep. A better way to say that is: your brain gets a good dose of nutrition from sleep. You need at least 7 to 9 hours of sound sleep for your brain to be refreshed. Continuously depriving your brain of that amount of resting time will cause your body hormones to go haywire and your body will start reacting in funny ways. Cortisol, the stress hormone associated with fat gain, starts to signal your body to conserve energy which your body will use during waking hours, and you find yourself craving fatty foods.
Ever heard the term “metabolic grogginess”? It’s a term coined by University of Chicago researchers who studied the effects of poor sleep for just four days. Their research shows that if you’re deprived of sleep within just four days, your body’s ability to properly use insulin becomes completely disrupted. In fact, the researchers observed more than a 30 percent drop in insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone your body uses to convert starch, sugar, and other food into energy.
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Again, research shows that when dieters cut back on sleep over a 14-day period, they felt hungrier and less satisfied even after meals, because their energies were mostly drained. Interestingly, the amount of weight they lost from fat dropped by 55%, yet their calorie level remained the same.
In all likelihood, you may have felt worn out, tired, and maybe a little disoriented when you woke up from a night of very poor sleep. That exhaustion you felt was not just your body and brain passing a message; your fat cells were telling you something too. And the message is simple: your insulin is not functioning properly; therefore, fats circulate in your blood and pump out more insulin which eventually ends up storing fat in your liver and other places it shouldn’t store fat. This is how you gain weight through sleep deprivation and eventually develop diseases like diabetes.
The relationship between sleep deprivation, metabolism, and weight gain is a vicious cycle. As weight gain occurs due to sleep deprivation-induced metabolic changes, it can further disrupt sleep quality by contributing to conditions like obstructive sleep apnea, which is associated with both snoring and migraines, as mentioned earlier. Poor sleep quality perpetuates the negative metabolic effects, creating a self-perpetuating cycle of weight gain and sleep disturbances.
When your sleep quality is poor on a regular basis, it begins to affect the quality of the decisions you make. The reason is not farfetched; your brain’s decision-making and impulse control button is dull. This sets you up to make choices that are not so good for your overall wellbeing. You are in essence the same as someone who is tipsy.
Ever wondered why when you go for days without good sleep, you tend to grab a bite of some late-night snacks every now and again? It is because sleep deprivation causes your brain’s reward center to look for something that feels good. Your brain’s reward center is more stimulated by food (the tempting ones) when you are sleep deprived. So it is more likely that your late-night snacks will be something that is high in carbohydrate, or something containing a high amount of fat. And you end up saying stuff like, “it’s just one extra bite of a piece of cake… it won’t kill, right?”
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Another study found that poor sleep quality over a prolonged period increases the urge to eat bigger portions of all foods which leads to weight gain. In recent reviews, researchers found that a lack of sleep leads to increased cravings for energy-dense, high-carbohydrate foods.
When you put this all together, it tells a simple story: a sleep-deprived brain tends to crave junk food while also lacking the ability to say no to harmful foods. A fuzzy brain means harmful eating habits.
Poor Sleep Impacts Workouts Negatively
So you want to lose weight, and you hit the gym and workout like crazy. Yet you see no considerable result after a significant while. Have you considered that perhaps exercise is not the problem? Do you have a good quality sleep at night? The negative impact of sleep deprivation goes way beyond diet and into your workouts. Getting more quality sleep can help improve your athletic performance. Conversely, lack of sleep decreases your motivation for exercise and also reduces the quantity and intensity you put into your exercises.
Also interesting: How Does Sleep Affect Your Exercise?
Having some muscle on your body is vital. Muscle is the enemy of fat; it helps you burn more calories at rest than fat does, and it makes you stay young. On the flip side, poor sleep quality is the enemy of muscle. Scientists are sure that a lack of sleep decreases your body’s ability to build muscle and causes muscle loss. As a consequence, you are risking a higher incidence of injuries. When a muscle is lost, resting metabolic rates decreases.
How to Sleep Better at Night
We live in a world where getting some quality shut-eye time can pose a really difficult challenge; with all the gadgets we have to distract us – computers, TVs, cell phones, tablets, etc. That aside, the hustle for more money, shift jobs, extra light night study, and entertainment can lure us into staying up just a little longer. To get a better night’s sleep, try to stick to the following actions.
- An hour or so before going to bed, shut down your computer, cell phone, and TV.
- Create and follow a bedtime habit. Bedtime is not the time to tackle big issues. Instead, wind down by taking a warm bath, meditation, or reading.
- Stick to a schedule, waking up and going to bed at the same times daily.
- Avoid taking a nap after 3 pm. If you must nap, do so in the daytime, but not for more than 20 minutes.
- Your bedroom should be synonymous with sleep. When you think of your bedroom, it should put you in the mood for relaxation, rather than work or entertainment.
- If you can’t sleep after lying awake in bed for about 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing. Go read a book (preferably one you find boring) until you feel sleepy again.
- Melatonin is a natural sleep hormone. Light suppresses it, so turn out the lights. Darkness tells your body to release melatonin making easier to fall asleep.
- Caffeine can stay in your system for 5 to 6 hours, so avoid soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate after 2 pm. These substances stimulate the nervous system, interfering with falling asleep and staying asleep by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline levels.
- Also, avoid eating heavy meals and alcohol close to bedtime.
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In conclusion, the lack of quality sleep also pushes you in the direction of the foods you know you shouldn’t eat. It is a good rule of thumb to get between 7 and 9 hours of sound sleep each night. If for any reason you have to sleep less or poorly for one night, do all you can not follow it up with a few more sleepless nights.
Poor sleep significantly alters how your body responds to food and shoots up your appetite, making it difficult to control your quantity of food intake. Sleep deprivation and weight gain can snowball into a vicious cycle – sleep a bit less and gain more weight, and the more weight you gain, the harder it is to sleep.
Health experts do strongly advice that getting enough sleep is as important to health, well-being, and your weight as are diet and exercise. In order to maintain proper weight, it is recommended that you get yourself quality sleep along with eating right and exercising right.