You’re about to embark on your weight loss journey and think you’ve got your bases covered. A healthy eating plan? Check. Intermittent fasting and fasting support? Check. A balanced sleep schedule? Well, maybe not all of your bases were covered after all.
If you’ve ever wondered if sleep is essential for weight loss, the answer is a resounding yes. Sleep and weight loss go hand in hand. When you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t give your body time to recharge, and you miss out on critical weight loss functions like metabolism, appetite, and cell regeneration, which all require a full night’s sleep.
So, if you’ve hit a plateau in your weight loss journey despite your best effort, your sleeping patterns might be the culprit.
How Does Sleep Affect Weight Loss?
Contrary to what you may think, your body isn’t inactive while you sleep, it’s hard at work. While you snooze, your body repairs cells and tissues, clears out toxins and impurities, and burns calories. An average 150-pound person burns a whopping 440 calories over a seven-hour night of rest—an equivalent of a 30- to 40-minute jog on the treadmill! Plus, if you work out or try fasted exercise, sleep increases your muscles’ blood flow to aid repair and recovery.
A lack of sleep can severely deter your weight loss efforts. Several of your hormones and critical bodily functions rely on a steady, seven-hour per night sleep schedule to perform. In particular, your appetite, metabolism, stress levels, and fat cells all require a full night’s rest to aid in your weight loss journey.
Check out how your sleeping patterns can assist in weight loss:
1. Decrease Your Appetite
Hormones are your body’s natural messengers. When you feel hungry or full, it’s because specific “hunger hormones,” leptin and ghrelin, pass to your brain. Leptin decreases your appetite and provides a feeling of satiety. Ghrelin increases your appetite and signals to your brain that you should eat. If you adhere to an appropriate sleeping schedule and consume healthy meals between fasts, your hunger hormones should function without a hitch.
However, sleep deprivation or a lack of sleep reduces your leptin hormones and causes a spike in your ghrelin hormones. In other words, you feel hungrier and have difficulty feeling full when you don’t sleep enough. This juxtaposition can influence you to overeat, which not only sabotages your weight efforts but also impacts the effectiveness of your fast. Not to mention, your hunger hormones aren’t the only messengers affected by a lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation also triggers a release of insulin, which can increase fat storage and put you at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
2. Upgrade Your Metabolism
Did you know your metabolism plays a crucial role in your weight loss? Metabolism is a chemical reaction that turns the calories you eat into energy for your body to use. If you eat more calories than your body needs, you store those excess calories as fat. Surprisingly, the metabolism process primarily occurs when you’re asleep or at rest. So, adequate sleep is necessary for your metabolism to function correctly.
Leptin and ghrelin help regulate your metabolism. Sleep deprivation can cause an imbalance in these hunger hormones and your metabolism will suffer in response. Lack of sleep can also decrease the amount of energy your body can use to burn calories. So, instead of turning the majority of the calories, you eat into fuel, your body ends up storing those calories as fat.
3. Alleviate Stress
The relationship between stress and sleep is as significant as the link between sleep and weight loss. Studies show how much you sleep and your mood is inherently connected.
Inadequate or poor sleep can cause you to feel irritable and increase stress, while a good night’s sleep can enhance your overall feelings of wellbeing. Sound familiar? Without a good night’s sleep, it’s easy to feel groggy, snappy, or overwhelmed. With enough rest, you’ll feel like you can take on the world.
Unfortunately, stress can negatively impact your weight loss efforts. Research suggests stress can increase your appetite, reduce your motivation to engage in physical activity, and heighten your cravings for unhealthy foods. These factors can hinder your ability to lose weight or even lead to weight gain over time. In comparison, a full night’s sleep can help alleviate stress and give you a positive mindset to continue along your journey.
4. Shrink Fat Cells
If you’re attempting to lose weight, chances are, you want to shrink your fat cells. Your fat cells store the excess fat your body made when you ate more calories than you used for energy. When you need more energy, you burn the fat stored in your cells for fuel. This energy-making process helps shrink your fat cells. If you’re not sleeping enough, it will be difficult for you to tap into your cells for energy – meaning your fat cells will remain the same size.
Shockingly, researchers discovered your fat cells can’t function properly without a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep reduces your fat cells’ ability to respond to insulin, your energy regulating hormone, by a whopping 30 percent. Four nights of insufficient sleep can cause a 16 percent reduction in your total-body insulin response. Insulin resistance can unbalance your release and storage of energy, rapidly escalate your blood sugar levels, and put you at a higher risk of diabetes.
Sleep Your Way to Weight Loss
Seven to eight hours each night is ideal, so try not to sleep significantly less or more. Studies show both short- and long-duration sleepers were 30 percent more likely to experience weight gain than average-duration sleepers.
If you’re unsure how to get enough sleep, try these five tips:
- Avoid Large Meals, Alcohol, Caffeine, and Cigarettes Before Bed – All four can disrupt your snooze and make it hard to fall asleep. Better yet, begin your fasting cycle two to three hours before bed.
- Develop a Relaxing Nighttime Routine – Your mind needs time to shift into sleep mode, so dedicate an hour or so before bed to unwind and relax. Read, write in your journal, or try another calming activity. Dim the lights and avoid your cell phone, TV, computer, or other sources of light, since they interrupt your melatonin production. Activities that cause excitement or stress can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
- Check the Life Expectancy on Your Mattress and Pillows – Most quality mattresses have a life expectancy of nine to 10 years. Replace Polyester pillows every six months, and foam and feather pillow every three years. If you feel uncomfortable or unsupported while you sleep, your mattress or pillow may be to blame.
- Establish a Proper Sleep Environment – Most experts agree your sleep environment should be between 60 and 67 degrees and free from noise and light. Invest in fans, earplugs, or blackout curtains to improve your ability to fall and stay asleep.
- Adhere to a Schedule (Even on Weekends) – Your body runs on an internal clock. If you follow a set schedule, you can help regulate your body’s clock and stay asleep throughout the night.
Sleep and Weight Loss: A Dreamy Combination
Is sleep important for weight loss? Without a doubt! Your sleeping patterns influence your hormones and critical weight loss functions like your metabolism and appetite regulation. If you’re confused about a recent plateau in your weight loss journey, take a look at your sleep schedule. Some more shut-eye may be just what you need.