The Amazing Connection Between Sleep and Weight Loss

In 1965 a high school student managed to stay awake for 264 hours; that’s approximately 11 days. There have been a variety of studies that show it is possible to stay awake for 10 days, but in the process the ability to concentrate, stay motivated or even retain cognitive function diminished.

Of course, a couple of good night’s sleep then resolved all the issues. However, this is extreme circumstances. Most people sleep every night which is just as well as sleep and weight loss are intricately connected.

In recent years there has been a huge amount of research into the effects of sleep on health. Sleep isn’t simply a time when your body is passive. It is the time when your body processes the day’s events, restores energy and balances your body.

Put simply, getting the right amount of sleep can extend your lifespan.  A lack of sleep increases your risk of depression, seizures, high blood pressure and an array of chronic long-term illnesses.

But what is the right amount? Scientists state that a healthy adult should have 7 hours sleep per night. Of course this is slightly variable depending on an individual’s needs and lifestyle.

What is clear is that below 6 hours and over 9 can have a serious affect on your health.

How Irregular Sleep Can Lead To Weight Gain

It may seem confusing that a lack of sleep can result in weight gain but the answer is actually very simple.

grhelin & leptin sleep and weight lossSleep and weight gain are intrinsically linked by the hormones in your body.

When you sleep your body balances your hormones. This means reducing the amount of cortisol, (the stress hormone); which allows your body to produce other hormones.

Specifically related to sleep and weight loss is the balancing of two hormones:

Ghrelin is a hormone commonly referred to as the hunger hormone. It makes you feel hungry. When you sleep your levels of this hormone reduce and you crave food less.

Leptin is the appetite hormone. Sleeping encourages the production of this hormone which makes you feel full.

Put these together with enough sleep and you’ll feel fuller throughout the day and less inclined to eat. That puts sleep and weight loss in the same camp.

The opposite is true; don’t get enough sleep and you’ll feel hungrier and your appetite will be increased. In short; you’ll eat more and are likely to gain weight!

A lack of sleep can also slow your metabolic rate, which reduces your ability to convert calories to energy and results in higher fat storage.

It has also been shown that if you don’t get enough sleep then your body will crave sugar, to help it keep functioning. This will result in snacking and consuming more calories than you need. Again; you’ll be looking at weight gain.

Equally too much sleep can cause similar issues.

Top Tips for Sleeping Better

So, now you know that sleep and weight loss go hand in hand; how do you improve your current level of sleep?

It’s not just the amount you sleep; you need to have quality sleep. All you need is the right motivation and these great tips to improve your sleeping patterns:

Blue Light Exposure

man using cell phone at night sleep and weight lossYou’ve probably heard of blue light, it has become a hot topic. This is part of the light spectrum that is emitted from laptops, televisions, cell phones and other electrical devices.

Unfortunately blue light stimulates the brain, preventing the release of melatonin. This is a hormone released by your body late in the day to prepare you for sleep; If it is suppressed you’ll struggle to get to sleep.

Don’t forget, being in bed for 8 hours is not the same as getting 8 hours sleep.

You need to turn any devices emitting blue light off at least 1 hour before bed.

Avoiding Caffeine

cup of coffeeIt will come as no surprise to you that caffeine is a stimulant. If you drink it too close to bed it will keep you awake.

But, most people associate caffeine with coffee. Of course, it is present in coffee but t is also in many other things; such as tea or cola.

Think about what you’re eating and drinking ate at night; if it has caffeine or another stimulant try to avoid drinking it within 3 hours of your bedtime.

No Napping!

Napping during the daytime is a recipe for disaster. Your body only needs so much sleep. If you nap during the daytime then you’ll struggle to sleep at night. Worse, your night sleep is unlikely to be deep sleep; where most of the repair work is done.

If you feel tired during the day then get up, walk around and get some fresh air. This is not a cue to rely on caffeine or other stimulants.

Build A Schedule

You need to set yourself a bedtime and a getting up time. These should be the same every day of the week; whether you’re at work or not.

This will help your body to regulate sleep and awake times and ensure you switch off quicker; allowing yourself to get quality sleep.

In the process of creating your schedule you’ll help your body regulate its circadian cycle. This is the natural mechanism that controls when you feel awake and when you feel sleepy.

Setting it correctly will help you to get quality sleep.

Start today by setting your bedtime and waking time; then sticking to them.

De-stress

stress ball sleep and weight lossWe live in a stressful world. But high levels of cortisol in your body will prevent your body from sleeping as it remains in ‘fight or flight’ mode.

You can’t avoid all stress but you can create a habit that allows you to de-stress before bed.

A warm bath may help, as will meditation. You may even like to sit and read for 30 minutes. As long as you’re not thinking about work or other issues you’ll be helping get your body ready for quality sleep.

Comfort

Your bedroom needs to be comfortable. Curtains and blinds can keep out streetlights but don’t make them so heavy that they keep out the sun in the morning.

Your bed must be comfortable; if it’s not change the mattress.

Above all the bedroom must make you feel relaxed; this will help you drift off naturally to sleep.

Exercise

Exercise is good for weight loss as you burn more calories. But it can also help your body to need sleep and therefore ensure you have better quality sleep.

However, you shouldn’t exercise too close to your bed as this is the same as a stimulant; making it harder for you to get to sleep.

Talk To A Doctor

doctor weighing man sleep and weight lossMany people take sleeping pills to help them get to sleep. However, this is not a good long-term option. Committing to any type of drug in the long term is likely to have a detrimental effect on your health.

However, if the above tips are not helping and you’re still struggling with sleeping then it is important that you visit a doctor. There may be an underlying cause that they can help you deal with.

Good Night Sleep Tight

Your health is important, that’s why the Fit Father Project works hard to get you the best possible advice and support.

It's not just sleeping and weight loss that matter, a healthy lifestyle can extend your lifespan and help you to stay disease free. Join FF30X today to get all the advice and support from people who’ve been where you are.

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Your new friend & health coach,

stuart-headshotStuart Carter
Head Training Staff, The Fit Father Project

Brotherhood Nickname: “The Fit Brit”
Bragging Rights: 16 Years in the fitness industry, Author of ‘The Easy Fitness Guide', Father of 4 boys and Husband to a Venezuelan beauty.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on sleep and weight loss.