You’ve cut calories, started working out more, but you’re still struggling to lose weight. What else can you do? You think you’re doing all the right things. You’ve even checked to see if your scale was broken. Nope, those few extra pounds are still there. It turns out there’s one thing you may not have thought of -- sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause you to gain weight. That’s right, you can “work out” just by sleeping more. Losing weight begins with sleep.
Sleeplessness And Weight GainEven if you think you’re getting enough sleep, it only takes 30 minutes of sleep loss for you to gain weight.
Sleeping less equals weight gain, so listen closely, college students, new parents and self-described night owls.
What happens when you don’t get enough sleep?
- Hunger hormones increase -- can lead to overeating
- Consume around 300 more calories
- Snack more
- Less physical activity
- Eat more to give our bodies energy that we missed from sleep
Insufficient sleep promotes hunger, which turns into overeating and weight gain. Our bodies were not made for sleep deprivation. When we’re not sleeping enough, we experience a hormonal imbalance -- especially the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which we’ll call our “hunger hormones.”
When these hormones become imbalanced, our bodies become stressed and our appetites increase. It's not an appetite for a salad, it’s an appetite for quick and easy junk food. When you’re tired, your body needs quick energy and foods that relieve stress, and the easiest foods for that are high-fat and high-carb foods. You don’t have to be a dietitian to know that eating high-carb and high-fat foods can result in weight gain. When we do get enough sleep (eight hours), our hormones do what they’re supposed to do. In return, we only eat food when we need it, not because our brains are tricking us into thinking we are hungrier than we actually are.
Sleeping less forces our bodies to use their fight-or-flight response. When this happens, our bodies go into survival mode. Sleeplessness fools our bodies into thinking we are in danger. Our bodies “fight” this by slowing down our metabolism because our bodies are trying to maintain and store fuel. In short, our bodies stop burning fat and calories. When our metabolism slows down we begin to gain weight and we need sleep to keep our metabolism working (and working fast).
Also, how do you expect to be healthy, eat right and work out when you’re constantly exhausted? We need energy to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Without sleep, we have trouble doing that. We need sleep to give our bodies time to restore and rejuvenate, and that’s why if you do not get a lot of sleep, you wake up still feeling exhausted. Whenever we wake up feeling like we got hit by a bus, the last thing we want to do is work out. Instead, we hit the snooze button once, twice … okay, it's five times. We need a full night of rest just to have the energy and willpower to work out.
Not only does sleeping restore our bodies so we can hit the gym, but it also gives us the energy just to have self-control. No sleep means no control. Resisting junk food is much easier when your brain has the power to say no. When your brain is sleepy, it’ll say something along these lines: “Okay. Fine. Eat that extra slice of pizza.”
Your brain doesn't think your health is worth fighting for because your brain is conserving energy and only using energy when it believes it's absolutely necessary, and your weight isn’t a priority to your brain. The good news? When you’re able to get a full night of rest, your brain has enough energy to make everything a priority. So you’re not weak, you’re just tired.
To make up for the lack of sleep, our bodies want quick and easy energy. Our bodies want food that will make us feel good, give us quick energy and give ourselves a “sugar rush” just to make it through the day. It’s easy for us to grab a donut and coffee on the way to work and grab takeout on the way home because we’re too tired to cook. We skip our workout for Netflix on the couch. Then, we do it all over again, making this a vicious cycle that can lead to weight gain.
Eating unhealthy foods and being too tired for the gym is a fast way to combat sleepiness and also a fast way to gain weight. Therefore, is staying up late to watch one more episode worth it?
Sleeping less is a recipe for weight gain; you have less energy and less willpower to do the healthy things for your body. Sleepless nights make you eat more, eat worse and you’re more likely to skip the gym and hang out on the couch instead.
Sleep More, Weigh Less
Sleeping more is a quick and easy solution to shedding pounds and giving you enough fuel for the next day. End the cycle of sleep deprivation. Stop sleeping five or less hours, start getting your needed eight and see your body get into shape. Sleep isn’t something you do if you have “downtime,” sleep is something our bodies need to be healthy and to also fit into our skinny jeans.
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