Most people know the connection between exercise and weight loss. But how about the scientific and hormonal connection between lack of sleep and weight gain? With the obesity epidemic spiraling out of control, studies are constantly underway trying to solve the problem. Now, more than ever, we see how sleep deficiency leads to weight gain. So, if you’re struggling to lose weight, you may need to consider changing your bedtime…
Lack of Sleep and Weight Loss Statistics
Many people know they should be getting more sleep, but they don’t see it as having a big enough influence over their health and fitness to actually make a change. Well, here are a few facts that might change your mind about your Zzzz’s…
- Those who do not get an adequate amount of sleep are 50% more likely to be obese. In a study of 635,000 people, adults who did not get enough sleep were 50% more likely to be obese. Now, here’s the really scary part… Children who did not get enough sleep were 90% more likely to be obese (1)!
- People who get more than seven hours of sleep per night are more likely to succeed in losing weight. Another study showed that those who got more than seven hours each night not only had better sleep quality, but they were also 33% more likely to succeed in losing weight.
- Sleep deprivation causes your body to hold on to fat tissue and lose muscle. In a recent weight loss study, those who cut calories and slept less than 5.5 hours each night lost 55% less body fat and 60% more lean body mass than those who got 8.5 hours of sleep.
- A lack of sleep stimulates your appetite. Inadequate amounts of sleep actually affect the part of your brain that controls your appetite and pleasure eating. Too little sleep decreases levels of the hormone leptin, which signals the brain that you are full. And, it increases levels of ghrelin, a hormone which stimulates your appetite. This means you will feel more of an urge to eat and less satisfied when you do (2).
- More Time to Eat. The more time you spend awake, the more hours available to eat (3).
- Less Active. Studies show that people who are tired tend to spend more time watching t.v. and less time exercising (3).
- Lower Body Temperature. Sleep deprived individuals often have lower body temperatures, thus, resulting in a drop in body temperature, leading to a lowered energy expenditure (3).
Catch Those Zzzz’s
So, how many hours of sleep are you getting each night? When you’re used to getting 5, maybe 6 hours of sleep each night, but go to bed after midnight, it’s tough to suddenly move your bedtime up to 10 p.m. However, by making a gradual transition, you’ll be on your way to more sleep, painlessly.
- Move your bedtime up 15 minutes each week to gradually train your body to fall asleep earlier. This helps you avoid hours of tossing and turning brought on by an abrupt change in your bedtime.
- Stop eating at least 3 hours before bed and avoid caffeine after 2 p.m. Your sleep can be disrupted by digestion when you eat too close to bedtime, and caffeine most definitely disrupts sleep.
- Turn off the TV and computer! They stimulate your brain and eyes and can keep you awake. Stop watching TV or looking at anything with a screen about an hour before bed to “turn off” your brain. Or at the very least, but blue light blocking glasses.
- Do something soothing. Read a book, take a bath, etc. to relax and prepare your body for rest.
- Set a consistent bedtime and wake up time. Form a pattern, and your body will catch on.
By consistently going to bed early and getting an adequate amount of sleep, not only will have greater success in losing weight, but you’ll improve your energy, mood, brain functionality, and overall quality of life! So, make it a habit to catch those Zzzz’s!
Now you know all about the connection between lack of sleep and weight gain. Read more sleep strategies here.
Check out the best foods that improve sleep here.