Trending weight loss “cures” are always cropping up, claiming to help you ditch the fat fast, but perhaps everything we’re looking for revolves around something we already do: sleep. Losing the belly fat consistently comes out as the most popular new years resolution, but there’s a reason that for most of us it also tops our list the following year, it’s not easy. Whilst on the surface it shouldn’t be complicated, just don’t eat more than you need to, cut down on saturated fats and sugars, and go for a run now and then, it’s barely ever that simple in practice.
This requires a real commitment, the discipline to get outside and exercise when we really don’t feel like it, and to somehow ignore the cravings pushing us to buy that packet of cookies that we love the taste of. There are medications out there that you can get at fairly decent prices, that have been approved by the FDA to genuinely help with weight loss, but perhaps there’s a more natural way of improving your chances. It may come as a surprise to discover that the quality and duration of our sleep has just as much bearing on our progress with our weight that nutrition and exercising!
The nation clearly doesn’t know this though, as two-thirds of American’s report not getting enough sleep, and lo and behold three-quarters of Americans are overweight. 1 in 4 people only sleep for 5 hours or fewer each night, and that’s rarely because that’s the optimal amount for those individuals, it’s much more likely that it’s undesired sleep deprivation. The average is 6 hours of sleep, although sleep specialists recommend 7 to 9 is ideal. In this article, written by Pharmica the trusted online pharmacy, we discuss how disregarding our sleep can make achieving weight loss goals far more difficult, and propose some ways to better your sleep quality.
What’s the Connection?
We’re all pretty aware of the importance of sleep on our mood and on our energy levels during the day. It’s interesting to note the rates at which obesity has increased in the past half a century mirroring the decline in our quality of sleep, as reported by us.
The correlation between a low standard of sleep and being overweight is undoubtedly clear, but whether we can consider this a causation is still very much up for debate within the scientific community. More research is certainly needed to arrive at any definitive conclusions, however, there’s already a number of studies that indicate a likely relationship.
The Effect of Lack of Sleep on our Weight
Society often points towards your mental resilience as the reason overweight people struggle to lose their excess fat. Whilst the psychological is often stressed, the physical and bio-chemical is too often discounted.
Research suggests that if you don’t suffer from poor sleep but do in fact get your recommended hours of quality sleep in, you are far less likely to experience cravings or a large appetite. The responsibility of this lies in the production cycles of certain hormones. Ghrelin is a neurotransmitter responsible for increasing our appetite, which following a good night’s sleep the production of it is lower.
At the same time, the bodily chemical Leptin naturally suppresses reduces the appetite, and in sleep-enriched individuals the production of this is high. This means that all else being equal, those with better sleep will simply not experience nearly as many cravings or feelings of sudden hunger outside of their usual 3 meals per day.
As well as our neurotransmitter levels being shaken up, you are likely aware of how a lack of quality sleep can affect your mood. It turns out that when we’re in a bad mood, we’re much more likely to desire to eat food that’s not healthy for us. One research study discovered that when sleep-deprived, healthy individuals would gravitate towards foods that were 150% as calorie-dense as their selections following a good night’s sleep.
Also, having polished off a big meal, they struggled to resist the appeal of unhealthy, calorific snacks such as chips and cakes. Snacking late at night was also something that those suffering from a lack of sleep carried out far more commonly than on average.
Insulin Levels and Glucose Metabolism
Cortisol, the hormone related to stress, spikes when we fail to get enough sleep, and encourages the body to preserve energy in the form of fat. With less sleep, the body doesn’t burn as much fat as if you slept well, in its attempt to preserve the energy for when it might be needed.
The BMR (basal metabolic rate, which is the fewest number of calories our body requires to carry out essential functions) declines when not sleeping well, meaning you’re expending less energy and therefore more calories will be stored. The body also struggles to convert sugar and starches into energy when tired, because insulin levels drop. This results in them being stored without being converted to energy (sadly in the form of fat cells).
You’ll probably know how little motivation you have to exercise following a bad night’s sleep. Well, this is not only a mental roadblock through mood, but it’s also because we’ve physically got less usable energy as the above paragraph points out. Not only is it not wise to lift heavy weights when you’re exhausted, but lack of sleep reduces our performance and ability to concentrate. Exercise is key for staying healthy and not becoming overweight/losing weight, so anything you can do to be more motivated to exercise will pay dividends.
Methods for Improving Sleep and Helping Weight Loss
Despite us knowing that we might not get as good quality sleep as we should, sometimes life gets in the way and 7-9 hours becomes a pipe dream. Use the below tips to get back on track: Exercise regularly to improve circadian rhythm and be less tired during the day.
Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day so your hormone production aligns with your waking and sleeping hours. Take sleep supplements like Nytol to get to bed quicker and have a deeper sleep. Eliminate factors that cause large amounts or constant stress, as this won’t help your sleep quality. Be an early bird, wake up earlier so you’re more in tune with natures day.
Get rid of artificial light anywhere close to where you sleep. Chill the temperature in the bedroom to a cooler temperature than you’d usually have in other rooms. Take Vitamin supplements such as vitamin D, which is associated with improving sleep and is something we’re often deficient in, particularly in the winter months.