Studies show that sleep and weight loss are closely related. This post will explain why you need better sleep and how this will contribute to your weight loss journey. Bonus: Tips for a great sleep!
With the busyness of modern life, sleep often falls to the bottom of our list when it comes to self-care.
It’s just so easy to put off and push back…staying up late to get everything done (or getting up before your body is ready to fit in just a few little tasks before the kids wake up).
But please believe me when I say this is not sustainable!
While I’m sometimes guilty of both scenarios, I do try to get a good amount of shut-eye. Why? Because I know first hand how important sleep is to a healthy lifestyle—plus I function WAY better with adequate sleep.
There are plenty of good reasons why you should give sleep the same attention that you give to other healthy habits like exercise and eating well.
I’ll go over them below and I’ll also share some surefire ways to get better, more restorative sleep.
As a bonus, we’ll look at Q & As discussing how sleep and weight loss go hand in hand. Because yes, sleep can help you lose weight!
10 REASONS WHY YOU NEED BETTER SLEEP
Before we get into the details, it is important to know that having an unhealthy sleep schedule can impact your health in ways that aren’t obvious…and that you may never suspect.
Here are my top 10 reasons you need a good night’s sleep:
1. Lack of sleep affects your social ability: Sleep (or lack of it) can impact how you interact with others. Interestingly, a study with participants who had controlled sleep versus sleep-deprived participants showed that those who hadn’t had enough sleep struggled to judge human facial emotions. After one night of better sleep, the results improved. Get your sleep before that big meeting or family gathering, my friends!
2. Lack of sleep affects your immunity: Backed again by science, a study over 2 weeks showed that those with less than 7 hours of sleep per night developed the common cold more easily (when exposed to the cold virus). Yes, sleep is so important for staying healthy. Add in exercise and foods like chicken soup, lots of fruits and veggies, spices like ginger, lean proteins…and you’ll be all set for immunity.
3. Increased inflammation results from poor sleep: We all know how important it is to stay away from inflammatory foods but sleep can also help lower your inflammation levels! I recommend the combination approach by getting the right amount of zzzz’s and making sure to eat lots of anti-inflammatory foods.
4. The risk of diabetes can increase with lack of sleep: When suffering from little sleep, your body’s release of insulin is affected. This means your blood sugar levels will be higher and your risk of developing diabetes will increase.
5. Lack of sleep can affect your mental health: Depression is one of the most common mental health issues corresponding to a lack of shut-eye. A study of questionnaires taken from sleep-deprived individuals showed that those sleeping less than 6 hours a night noted more depression.
6. Lack of sleep can affect your cardiovascular health: A healthy heart relies on good sleep. Studies show that fewer hours of slumber per night were noted in people with a history of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and coronary heart disease. Poor sleep can affect your organs more than you know!
7. Better sleep improves your productivity: Mental performance, concentration, and productivity are all affected by your sleep habits. Want to be sharper at the office? Or while playing trivia with the kids? The amount of sleep you get affects all aspects of life, whether work or play.
8. Better sleep improves your exercise performance: Lack of sleep affects both athletes and everyday exercise lovers. Along with sleep, a healthy diet, and enjoying things like coffee and alcohol in moderation, sleep will help you accomplish your fitness goals.
9. Lack of sleep can mean a bigger appetite: When you don’t sleep properly, your appetite hormones can be stimulated, and you will likely eat more the next day (or during your midnight snack).
10. Short sleep duration is a factor in obesity: Several publications were reviewed to reveal that short sleep duration is linked to obesity from childhood right through to adulthood. Similar studies highlight the importance of lifestyle habits when it comes to the type of sleep you get each night.
Tips For Getting Better Sleep
I know that lack of sleep isn’t always a choice. These days getting good regular sleep can be a major accomplishment and it should be celebrated!
If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep (like so many of us), here’s a good place to start:
- Don’t drink wine at night. Sure, wine is a perfectly fine drink in moderation (think resveratrol and more) but it can keep you awake! Or wake you in the wee hours of the morning.
- Indulge in your dark chocolate snack earlier in the day due to the caffeine. There are health benefits to chocolate, but the caffeine may be detrimental for some when it comes to snoozing the night away.
- Showering at night before bed can help sooth your nervous system. A bath works as well and is extra helping for relaxing your muscles after a long day.
- Keep the room dark. Blackout shades or curtains may help with the production of melatonin, a hormone important for sleep. Skip the nightlight in the room, too.
- Turn off all electronics and the television well before bedtime. We all know about this suggestion—but consider this a reminder for good measure!
- Keep the room cool. This is another tried and true technique that always makes the “how to get more sleep list”.
- If you really need a bedtime snack, keep it small. The less your body has to work to digest overnight, the better you will sleep. Protein at night is said to be a good choice and it boosts your metabolism, too.
- Try a lovely sleep-inducing tea, like chamomile, peppermint, or lavender.
Which Foods Help With Both Sleep and Weight Loss?
Foods that help with sleep and weight loss (combined!) are the ones that have noticeable levels of tryptophan, a natural sleep-inducing compound. Here’s a list of my favorite foods that contain tryptophan:
- Pumpkin and sesame seeds
- Oatmeal (yay!)
How Can Sleep Help You Lose Weight?
Sleep can help you lose weight and metabolism has a lot to do with it. In fact, metabolism is one of the key reasons that sleep and weight loss goes hand in hand.
Why? Well, your resting metabolic rate (described as the largest component of energy expenditure) can be influenced by the amount of sleep you get. Sleeping better helps your metabolism to work more efficiently.
This in turn gives you more energy for the following:
- Regular exercise.
- Enjoyment of life (big things and little things).
- Taking the time to cook healthy meals.
- Maintaining a better and balanced mood.
- Welcoming new opportunities that improve your quality of life!
Can Lack Of Sleep Make You Gain Weight?
Yes, lack of sleep can make you gain weight. This becomes especially apparent when you see how sleep deprivation can become a vicious circle. When you get less than 6 hours of sleep a night, you have less motivation to move and get things done. This is often followed by weight gain which has been shown to disrupt sleeping patterns…and so it continues.
An important factor is the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin.
- Ghrelin is released in the stomach and signals hunger
- Leptin is released from fat cells and suppresses hunger, along with signaling fullness
Frequently Asked Questions About Sleep and Weight Loss
Here are some of the FAQs that commonly come up when discussing sleep and weight loss:
How Much Sleep Do You Need To Lose Weight?
Seven to nine hours is the ideal amount for keeping your body burning fat. When you sleep, your body produces growth hormones. These hormones work to stimulate muscle growth and also work to break down fat (a process called lipolysis).
However, when you don’t sleep enough, these processes are shortened. Your body does not burn fat and muscles don’t grow and repair as well as they could. So aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep especially if you would like to lose weight.
Does Lack Of Sleep Cause Belly Fat?
Studies show that there is a definite association between lack of sleep and belly fat. A study on visceral and subcutaneous tissues (in basic vocabulary – fat) showed an accumulation in subjects who slept less than 5 hours a night.
On the other hand, people who slept longer than 8 hours per night also had a slight increase (but not as significant as those who slept less than 5 hours). This goes hand in hand with the question above which states 7 to 9 hours is ideal.
Does Lack Of Sleep Make You Crave Carbs?
Research has proven that the fewer hours of sleep you get per night, the more you will crave high-calorie, carb, and fat-laden foods. And remember, people that eat later in the evening tend to go for less healthy foods. Try to eat earlier in the evening and eat a balanced meal. You’ll soon see the results and feel better!
Intermittent Fasting, Sleep, And Weight Loss
In my research, I learned that cutting down on eating to an 11-hour window and adding extra sleep totally helped me lose weight. Consider eating between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. (no later for this window) and taking the extra time you have away from food to get in your much-needed shut-eye.
To learn more about eating windows and finding a regimen that may work for you, read my posts on intermittent fasting:
- Does Intermittent Fasting Work For Weight Loss? Beginner’s Guide To Intermittent Fasting
- Intermittent Fasting For Women: A Complete Guide
- 9 Intermittent Fasting Mistakes Beginners Make (And How To Avoid Them)
- Why Am I GAINING Weight With INTERMITTENT FASTING: 4 Intermittent Fasting Mistakes That Can Lead To Weight Gain
I’ve also got videos on losing weight after kids and what I eat in a day. Combine a little structure and guidance to your lifestyle, along with giving yourself the gift of good sleep, and you will lose the extra pounds that may be slowing you down.
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