An estimated 45% of Americans report suffering from poor quality sleep or lack of sleep at least once per week. At the same time, the prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults is nearly 40%. While these statistics may not represent a direct cause-and-effect link between lack of sleep and obesity, much evidence suggests that sleep problems can greatly affect your weight-loss efforts and impair many functions throughout the body related to weight management.
How does sleep affect weight loss, and what can you do to prevent sleep loss from causing weight gain? Here’s how sleep is tied to weight, along with tips that can help you experience a better night’s sleep.
The effects of sleep loss on your brain
Sleep loss dulls activity in the brain’s frontal lobe, which impairs impulse control and decision-making abilities. The effects of sleep loss on your body are similar to those caused by alcohol intoxication, and affect your mental clarity in ways that can drive you to overeat and make unhealthy food choices.
Evidence suggests that those who are sleep-deprived are more likely to engage in late-night snacking and consume foods high in carbs and unhealthy fats. On top of driving you to make bad food decisions, the effects of sleep loss on impulse control can make it difficult for you to say no to junk foods.
Lack of sleep, hunger hormones, and weight gain
Sleep deprivation slows down your entire body and interferes with normal metabolic processes, including hormone production. Lack of sleep increases your body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol, and leads to imbalances in hunger hormones known as ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin signals your brain when it’s time to eat, while leptin tells your brain when you’ve have enough.
When you’re lacking sleep, your body’s ghrelin production increases, which triggers cravings and will make you feel hungry even when you don’t really need food.
At the same time, your body produces less leptin when you’re sleep deprived, which can lead to overeating, since your brain won’t receive the signal it’s time to stop eating. Evidence has found that people who cut back on sleep tend to stop losing weight within two weeks, even when consuming the same amount of calories.
Tips for a quality night’s sleep
Here are tips that can help you get a quality night’s sleep:
- Turn off lights and block all incoming light sources so your body can produce melatonin — a sleep hormone that promotes weight loss and fat burning.
- Avoid caffeine for at least six hours before bedtime, since caffeine can keep you awake and interfere with your sleep patterns.
- Stop using your computer, phone, and TV at least one hour before bedtime to prevent the effects of blue light from lending to sleeplessness.
- Limit bedroom activities to sleep and sex, since these activities are associated with relaxation and release, while an activity like working in bed can make you subconsciously think about work while you’re trying to sleep.
- Stick to a consistent sleeping schedule, even on weekends.
- Stop snacking and eating heavy meals within a few hours of bedtime, since your body’s digestive process can make it difficult for you to fall asleep or may jolt you awake in the middle of the night.
- Sleep, exercise, nutrition, and stress management are vital to maintaining good overall health and achieving a healthy weight. Improving your sleeping environment and behaviors can bring you one step closer to achieving your weight-loss goals.
Need help with your weight-loss goals? At Elite Physique, we believe an equal balance of nutrition, activity, rest, and confidence is the foundation for achieving a healthier you. Our personalized weight-loss program is designed to address the underlying factors that often make weight loss difficult, including hormone imbalances. Contact us today for your free consultation!