Some people struggle when it comes to weight loss, but sleep is an important part of a health regime that, if neglected, can ruin goals of slimming down. Some people go to such startling lengths to ensure that their diet and fitness regime is as controlled and health beneficial as possible, that they fail to realise that getting enough sleep is a major contributing factor when it comes losing weight and shaping up.
Ideally, we should sleep between 7 and 9 hours a night, so it’s obvious that when we don’t get enough sleep, we feel tired. Those with little willpower will then grab a latte or an energy drink, which are high calorie beverages, give the gym a miss and grab a take-away on the way home from work. Even those with more willpower, who can ignore the cravings for sugar, will experience minimal fat burning from sleep deprivation.
Hunger is mainly controlled by two hormones that are dramatically affected by lack of sleep.
- Ghrelin is a hormone that lets us know when our bodies needs sustenance. Not getting enough sleep intensifies the production of this hormone, making us feel hungry.
- Leptin is a hormone that lets us know when we’re satiated. Lack of sleep reduces the levels of leptin in the body, making us feel like we haven’t eaten enough.
Feeling hungry or less satisfied after a meal, especially when we’re tired, will naturally make us want to eat, thereby reducing and even undoing the benefits of diet and fitness.
Lack of sleep also interferes with the body’s ability to produce insulin. Insulin helps the body to convert the carbohydrates we eat into energy rather than storing them as fat. When we regularly sleep for a sufficient length of time each night, our insulin levels are fine and continue to help remove fatty acid from the bloodstream. When we don’t get enough sleep, these fatty acids aren’t removed from the bloodstream effectively and they produce more insulin. Excess insulin then starts to store fat. Therefore, people experience less weight loss when sleep deprivation is a concern.
Some handy tips to ensure that you get enough fat burning sleep include:
- addressing any medical conditions that make sleep difficult, for example back pain, sleep apnea or insomnia
- sticking to a tight schedule of when to eat, when to exercise and when to go to bed
- not eating after 9pm, as going to sleep on a full stomach can lead to heartburn and difficulty sleeping
- avoiding caffeine in the evening.