“If your goal is to lose fat, skipping sleep is like poking sticks in your bicycle wheels,” said study director Plamen Penev, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago.
Sleeping well each night should be a priority because a lack of sleep can actually make you gain weight – even if you’re eating well and exercising regularly. If you’re sleeping poorly, your metabolism won’t function properly and cause your body to hold onto fats.
The University of Chicago conducted a study about the relationship between sleep and weight loss. In the end, the overall weight loss results were substantial! Those who got 8 hours of sleep each night lost almost twice the amount of weight from fat than those who were sleep-deprived.
Sleep Deprivation Causes Food Cravings
If you consider that more than 35% of Americans are sleep deprived, do you think it’s a coincidence that these numbers are almost identical to the percentage of Americans who are obese?
The study also found how the sleepy dieters felt more hungry than the well-rested group. When the body doesn’t get adequate sleep, it starts producing a hormone called ghrelin that triggers hunger and reduces energy expenditure. Being tired and hungry is a dangerous combination because it often causes carb cravings.
Don’t undermine how important sleep is for your body! A lack thereof can start the vicious cycle of increased cravings for sugary foods that adds extra stress on the body.
Can't breathe, Can't sleep
Excess weight often leads to blocked airways leading to snoring or even sleep apnea. Fat deposits around your upper airway can obstruct your breathing which leads to disrupted or limited non-REM sleep. During the deep stages of NREM sleep, the body repairs and regrows tissues builds bone and muscle and strengthens the immune system so missing out leaves your body struggling to maintain and heal itself.
Tips for a Betr night’s sleep:
- Drink the adrenal cocktail
- No distractions. Make sure to turn off or mute any electronic devices (besides your alarm clock of course!) so that there are no distractions during the night. Studies have shown that the light from LED screens (laptop, smartphones, TV, etc.) slows down melatonin production (a sleep hormone), messing with your brain telling it that it’s not time to sleep.
- Avoid long naps during the day which will shorten nighttime sleep cycles. Naps that are more prolonged, more than 30-45 minutes, or that occur close to your intended bedtime can compromise your ability to fall or stay asleep at night.
- Start developing a good night routine. Remember when you used to have a good night routine as a kid? Why not have one as an adult? Take your time and settle in by drinking tea, reading a book, or creating a quick to-do-list for the following day. Anything that puts your mind at ease will work!
- Avoid caffeine from lunchtime on (and definitely before bedtime). Caffeine can stay in your system for as long as six hours, so avoid drinking any caffeinated drinks in the afternoon. If you like the taste of coffee, try decaffeinated in the afternoon.
- Turn off the TV, electronics and social media to avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed. Studies have shown that blue light suppresses melatonin and shifts circadian rhythms.
- Noise affects your sleep. If you like to sleep with the TV on, you might not realize how a sudden noise on the monitor, such as a gunshot or scream, can wake you up in the middle of the night. In fact, even while you’re sleeping your brain is continuing to process sounds that can cause you to wake up. Instead of using the TV as background noise to help you sleep, try using a white noise sound snoozer instead. White noise is a continuous, repetitive sound, such as the sound of rain, which will help you fall asleep and stay that way throughout the night blocking out disruptive noise.
- Move each day! Exercise is a great way to help encourage a restful night’s sleep. Studies show adults with insomnia fell asleep more quickly, slept slightly longer, and had better sleep quality than before they began exercising. It also reduces insomnia by decreasing anxiety and depressive symptoms. We were designed to move so build in times throughout your day to get up and walk if you have a desk job. Find an exercise activity you love that gets you moving and sleep better as a result!