The sleep/obesity connection
Increasing scientific evidence tells us there’s a strong link between a lack of sleep and obesity. In fact, research shows that people who sleep less than six hours each day are 30% more likely to become obese than those who sleep seven to nine hours.
Here are some of the ways that poor sleep habits can lead to weight gain.
Your brain triggers hunger hormones
When you’re running short on sleep, it causes your levels of leptin, a hormone that signals you’re full, to fall tricking you into thinking you’re hungry when you’re not.
At the same time, your levels of ghrelin, a hormone which signals that you’re hungry, increase resulting in an increased appetite.
It’s a hormone induce double-whammy that makes it almost impossible to resist overeating.
You crave junk food
Sleep loss also causes activity in the ‘reward’ centers of the brain to increase, making you more likely to satisfy your increased appetite with junk food that is high in sugar, salt, and fat.
You have to more time to eat
Since you’re awake longer, you’ll have more time to eat. Extra time awake is not the friend of someone trying to maintain a healthy weight, who also has a brain causing junk food cravings. Plus, you can’t eat while you’re asleep!
Your body temperature drops
A warm body burns more calories than a cold one. When you’re running short on sleep, it can cause your core temperature to decrease, resulting in reduced energy expenditure and more fatigue.
You feel more tired
Between primary sleepiness caused by the sleep loss and lethargy caused by a low core temperature, you’re going to feel lazy. Obviously, inactivity doesn’t help you burn as many calories as being active does. It’s hard to control your weight while dozing on the couch all evening.
Increased calories + Reduced energy expenditure = Weight gain
How to boost weight loss with sleep
What can you do to put an end to this vicious sleep loss-weight gain cycle? The answer is simple, start practicing good sleep hygiene:
- Stick to regular sleep/wake times
- Get plenty of natural daylight
- Respect your internal body clock
- Avoid stimulants before bedtime
- Banish phones, laptops, TV from the bedroom
- Get regular exercise
- Maintain a balanced diet
- Get 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night
By making these changes, your brain will return to performing normally and get the message that you’ve had enough to eat after eating healthy meals.