Do you have a healthy diet? Did you find a great workout plan that you can complete day after day? Still, your weight loss is not as quick and successful as you expected? There is a factor that you might never think about. It is an adequate amount of quality sleep every day. Based on studies, weight loss or even weight gain can depend on the amount of rest. In this post, I’ll walk through every factor that can stop weight loss if you don’t get enough sleep.
Why and how can sleep deprivation lead to weight gain?
After a bad night with inadequate sleep, you take your espresso, a bit later on, get some donuts to keep going. You try to survive at your workplace, trying to stay awake. You skip dinner because you are not effective enough to finish your work on time. The way home, you don’t stop at the gym. You are too tired for the workouts, and even to cook something, so you are just buying some takeout for dinner. You are drowsy, but your stomach is full, and you can’t sleep again.
Is it familiar? If this happens day after day for a more extended period, it is not a question you will gain weight. Let’s see more detailed how sleep deprivation affects your weight.
Researches have found that increased appetite and poor sleep have a connection. It is because of the effect of hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin is a hormone that alerts your brain if you are hungry. Its level is high before you eat and you are hungry, and lowers once your tummy is full. Leptin is released form the fat-cells and quells hunger and tells your brain that you are full. When you try to lose weight, the best is if you keep ghrelin level low and leptin level high. The study mentioned above revealed a shortage of sleep, less than 6 hours per day, stimulating ghrelin and lowering the level of leptin.
If it won’t be enough to stop weight loss, the scientist also discovered that not enough sleep raises the level of the stress hormone cortisol. With an increased cortisol level, you always feel that you need more food. No matter how much you eat before, the high level of ghrelin and cortisol will stop your brain from recognizing that, and you still will feel hunger.
Might develop insulin resistance
One night with less than 6 hours of sleep can develop the same insulin sensitivity as a 6-month long high fat diet as it was presented in LA at the Obesity Society Annual Meeting. Insulin resistance is a condition when the body is less sensitive to insulin, so to keep blood sugar stable, the body needs to produce more insulin. Insulin resistance makes you feel hungry more often, and in the longer run, could be responsible for type 2 diabetes.
Extensive hunger won’t be your only problem if your sensitivity to insulin is not working correctly. Insulin is responsible for processing sugar and starches into energy. With incorrect insulin sensitivity, fat is remaining in your bloodstream and will be stored as fat in your body. Even if you reduce your calorie intake, it can happen that food won’t be processed correctly, and your body starts to store nutrients as fat. So once you are sleep deprived, your metabolism will impede to gain your weight loss goal.
Slows down metabolism?
Did you ever hear about RMR? It is the resting metabolism rate, representing the calories you burn while you are entirely at rest. It depends on age, weight, muscle mass, height, and sex. Many studies want to reveal the connection between sleep deprivation and RMR, and the results are different. So other analyses are required to find the relationship between RMR and the amount of sleep.
But there is a factor that affects RMR indirectly: you lose muscle mass instead of fat during a diet if you are sleep deprived and get less than 5.5 hours of sleep daily. Every 11-pound muscle loss means a 50 calorie decrease in your daily RMR.
Researchers are still seeking the truth about the connection between sleep deprivation and metabolism, but one thing is sure, muscle loss can lower RMR. Therefore, it can hold back your weight loss diet and your desire for a nicely built-up body.
Lead to poor food choices
Lack of sleep has a significant influence on your food choices during the day. You might notice already; there are food alternatives that keep you awake, and if you are tired, you choose food options with higher calories. Can you see, it is a vicious cycle that is hard to break.
Why do you choose some high-calorie meal instead of a great salad when you are sleep deprived? Not enough sleep affects your brain, and the activity of the frontal lobe became dull. This part of the brain is in command of self-control and decision making. Additionally, after a night with poor sleep, the reward center is more stimulable with food. So in lack of sleep, a chocolate bar is much more tempting, and most likely, you will say yes to its charm.
Less activity during daytime
Once you decide that you start to lose weight, a healthy diet and appropriate calorie intake are must-have, but you can’t eliminate the workouts. If you would like to do so, the result would be a weak and unshaped body without muscles’ nice contours.
Human body never adjusts to shift work!
If you are tired because of a lack of sleep, you likely will skip the exercises and won’t bother with making healthy food for yourself. It is enough to don’t lose any weight at all.
In a publication, scientists revealed that poor sleep hinders your body’s ability to create muscle. The production of growth hormone is slowing down, which is resulting longer recovery time after exercises. With a shortage of growth hormones, it will be even harder to build any muscle. More muscle means more calorie burn and a beautifully shaped body. That’s what you imagined? Good night sleep can support you to achieve it.
Weight loss action points
When you think about weight loss and how you want to achieve it, you need to set up an action plan. These action lists usually contain two main points: diet and exercise plan. If you would like to reach real success and make your work easier, you should add a third point to your list: an adequate amount of sleep. You won’t get thin just because of rest, so the three action points together will support you on your way to a prettier body.
Get an adequate amount of sleep
Ok, sleep enough. But how? Let’s go through the factors that will help you sleep enough and support your weight loss by sleep.
Create and keep healthy sleep habits
There are excellent practices that you can apply to fall asleep quickly and improve your sleep quality. Few of these are the following:
- Stick to a sleep schedule.
- Reduce irregular or long daytime naps.
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual (Avoid screens, work, and stressful conversations late at night).
- Exercise daily (Not too close to bedtime).
- Appraise your bedroom to ensure the ideal temperature, sound, and light.
- Lie on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
- Beware of hidden sleep stealers (Caffeine, alcohol, and sugary foods).
- Turn off electronics before bed.
- Postpone worrying.
- Get help with stress management.
Activate “thinning fat”
Did you ever think that not just one kind of fat do you have in your body? If yes, you were right. We can distinguish brown or beige and white fat cells. Brown fat has a great benefit to your metabolism. Studies unveiled that a higher proportion of brown fat in the human body is linked to lower body mass. On the other hand, research on animals showed that lack of brown fat is linked with insulin resistance and diabetes. Beige fat can activate a protein that can generate heat in the body; therefore, burn calories. Ok, but how sleep is connected to this fat mystery? Melatonin, a sleep hormone, helps your body to create these thinning fats. You can encourage the production of melatonin by a regular and adequate amount of sleep. Good to know that brown and beige fats are temperature sensitive. If you sleep in a cold environment, the body converts white fat cells into brown and beige fat to keep your body warm.
An average person spends 24 years in bed, that results in about 125 million burned calories while sleeping which equals 250 000 normal burger’s calories.
Keep a healthy diet
You can’t skip making changes to your eating habits. Even if you had an excellent diet before, you could always find healthier and more beneficial options to support your weight loss. Be open-minded, and you can still discover useful tips that you can adopt to make weight loss simpler.If you work out of regular working hours, it is essential to minimize the effects of shift work on your meal. Those who work at night after arriving home tend to go to bed as soon as possible. If you do so, you will most likely skip breakfast and eat just at lunchtime and in the evening. That could lead to craving and poor food choices during the day. You can support your body and weight loss by having a protein-rich breakfast before going to sleep. You will sleep better and will wake up more relaxed and less hungry. When you are heading to work, take some healthy snacks from home to avoid fatty fast food that you can find at the cantine.
Follow your exercise plan
Workouts and finding the perfect activity for yourself are as fundamental as having the right diet. The internet is full of choices. You will discover exercise challenges, workouts for moms, and activities if you are short on time, nearly all situations are covered, and great solutions are available.
From a sleeping perspective, the most important is regularity. It would be best to make at least a short, about 30-minutes activity every day. If you have a different workout plan when you do exercises every second day, finish some household tasks on resting days. You can mow the lawn, clean the windows, reak the leaves, do the vacuuming, or anything else that keeps you active for half an hour. These short activities will make you sleep better.
How many calories is sleep burning?
In the end, let’s see the numbers; I know that you are curious about the math. An average person is burning about 540-720 calories with an 8 hours-sleep. This amount equals the calories of a typical burger with some beverage. The calories you will burn during the night is depending on sex, weight, height, and age, and of course, the number of sleeping hours. Men tend to burn more calories than women with the same weight because their muscle mass is usually higher.
You can use this calculator to figure out how many calories you burned last night. Then use the following formula: Hourly BMR × .95 × hours slept. (0.95, is for 95% because this proportion of BMR is required for sleep)
Few typical examples if you won’t like to do the math on your own:
- 25 years old, 5.5 feet high, 130 lbs woman, 8 hours of sleep: 446 calories
- 25 years old, 5.8 feet high, 130 lbs man, 8 hours of sleep: 497 calories
- 40 years old, 5.0 feet high, 175 lbs woman, 8 hours of sleep: 479 calories
- 40 years old, 6.0 feet high, 175 lbs man, 8 hours of sleep: 570 calories
- 65 years old, 5.5 feet high, 200 lbs woman, 8 hours of sleep: 483 calories
- 65 years old, 5.8 feet high, 200 lbs man, 8 hours of sleep: 549 calories
As you can see, sleep has a significant part if your diet succeeds or not. Of course, with a healthy diet and proper workouts, you can get the slimmer body you desire, but enough sleep makes it much easier and more successful.
No, you can’t sleep yourself thin. Too much sleep also hinders you from achieving your goals. If you sleep more than the adequate amount, which is about 7.5-8 hours per day, you skip daily activities that burn many more calories than sleep. Find the balance that fits your needs and lifestyle, and you will be satisfied with the results.
Did you achieve your goals already? Please share with us how sleep helped you to get to the finish line!