How sleep affects your weight loss
In this blog post, I will show you how your sleep can influence your weight loss pursuits and what to do about it. There have been many scientific papers published on the subject of sleep so I will not go deep into the science of sleep itself. Rather, I will stick to the sleep factor and its importance to your weight loss journey.
A little bit of science
According to scientific research, our sleep has a direct influence on our two important appetite hormones which are called leptin and ghrelin. Briefly stated, leptin is a hormone that decreases our appetite so when our leptin levels are high we feel fuller. On contrary, ghrelin is a hormone that increases our appetite and this hormone is mostly responsible when we feel hunger.
Scientists found that lack of sleep increases our level of ghrelin and decreases our leptin levels. So why is this important? Because what they found out is that we are more likely to eat unhealthy food when we are sleep deprived. Furthermore, we tend to snack more often during the day and eat foods that are high in calories. This is so true, at least it was for me each time I slept less than 7 hours. Oftentimes, we combat our lack of sleep with many cups of coffee without knowing that we are creating a sleep debt that can influence our health in the long-term and cause some unwanted consequences.
A research scientist, Tracy Jill, explains, “As your sleep debt gets higher, levels of a neurotransmitter that’s associated with sleepiness are building up in your brain.” Neurotransmitters are the molecules used by our nervous system to transmit messages between neurons, or from neurons to our muscles.
How much sleep is enough for a healthy weight loss?
When we wake up rested after a good night’s sleep, our hormones, besides appetite hormones mentioned above, are in balance. For weight loss, especially important is a growth hormone which supports our healthy muscles development and our metabolism.
How much sleep is enough? Every human being is different but generally 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Since one of the values of our company is personalisation, we will take this concept further. You know yourself the best, if you feel fully rested after 6 hours of sleep, then so be it. But don’t lie to yourself and your body will give you the signs making sure to keep that promise. Sleep is very important if you want to lose weight. Do not neglect this part.
Getting on top of your sleep
The most important factors that will affect your weight loss journey are sleep, nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle habits. Getting on top of your sleep must be your priority. If it’s not, you will struggle. Maybe you are not ready to lose weight at the moment. Please revisit our post Do you have the right mindset for weight/fat loss? to check your readiness.
Some suggestions on how to get on top of your sleep:
- Determine how many hours of sleep you need each night to feel fully rested and make sure to keep consistent with it.
- Getting into the habit of going to sleep at the same time each night is a great way to signal to your mind and body that it’s time to rest and recover.
- This may sound a cliche but turning off your devices at least 30 min before you go to sleep actually works and it will help you sleep better. What to do in 30 min before you plan to sleep? Read a book, say a prayer, write in your gratitude journal, etc.
- If you can, make your room completely dark, turn off any lights. This will according to the latest scientific study increase your mental focus and alertness during your day.
Basics should not be neglected. Forget about the fancy tools to lose weight. Focus on getting enough amount of sleep, following a personalised nutritional and exercise program, and practicing healthy lifestyle habits. That’s all you need.
Damir Pervan, a certified personal trainer and nutritional advisor, founder and CEO of TrainChampion