Why Sleep May Be the Key to Weight Loss

Why Sleep May Be the Key to Weight Loss

If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know the problem well: You’ve been eating all the right things, avoiding all the wrong ones, and making great progress. And then, suddenly, out of the blue, you’re not—you find that your rapid weight loss has slowed to an excruciating crawl. The treacherous weight loss plateau is a hump many find insurmountable, and has been responsible for more than a few aborted diets. If this discouraging scenario sounds familiar, there may be one critical thing you’re forgetting: sleep. Countless studies have shown the link between sleep and weight.

One particularly damning study, conducted by the University of Chicago back in 2010, concluded that cutting back on sleep reduces fat loss substantially. The study split overweight and obese dieters into two groups: one, which slept 5.5 hours nightly, and another, which was allowed a healthy 8.5 hours. The subjects’ diets were controlled to show whether or not the quantity of sleep has a direct impact on weight loss.

The study concluded that those who got fewer hours of sleep lost 55% less fat than those with a healthy sleep pattern. There is a multitude of other indirect ways in which sleep can impact weight loss as well. For instance, a lack of sleep can cause irritability, depression, and heighted blood pressure and stress levels, all of which have been shown to cause weight gain and prevent weight loss.

Sleep patterns can also alter your hormone levels. These levels can have adverse effects on your eating habits. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body overproduces ghrelin, a hormone that triggers a desire for food, and under-produces leptin, a hormone that is responsible for telling the body when it has consumed enough.  

According to The National Sleep Foundation, young adults (18-25) should shoot for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Older adults (65-plus) only need 7 to 8 hours. 

Here are five tips for getting a better night's sleep:

1. Set a schedule

Try to maintain a sleep schedule. The more regular it is, the more sleep you will get.

2. Relax before bed

High stress levels are a leading cause of sleeplessness. Do things you know will relax you before bed. Don’t read work emails, or watch scary movies. In fact, don’t use electronics at all.

3. Get regular exercise

Exercise during the day will better prepare your body for sleep at night. Exercise also serves as a stress relief.

4. Monitor caffeine intake

This goes for alcohol, nicotine and junk food as well. Monitor what and how much you consume, in addition to the time of day you consume. All of the above substances, and many more, have adverse effects on sleep.

5. Seek medical attention

Insomnia is no laughing matter. A persistent lack of sleep can fundamentally alter your life for the worse. If nothing seems to work, seek medical attention. A professional will advise you best on all the ways (pharmaceutical or non-pharmaceutical) to get the rest that you need.


CATEGORIES: Diet, Tips, Weight Loss, Sleep, Research Study, Sleep Study