So you’re eating clean and healthy, working out regularly, restricting your calorie intake, staying hydrated and active throughout the day, but the weight loss needle is simply refusing to budge?
During this introspection, did it occur to you even once that your sleeping habits could be a factor hindering your progress? It didn’t, we bet. Your non-seriousness towards sleep is what’s probably hampering your weight-loss journey.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep every night for adults. Anything less than that can lead to weight gain. Here’s how:
1. Poor sleep can make you hog food like a beast
Now, there are two ways to look at this situation.
Firstly, as per a 2016 study published in the journal Sleep, lack of sleep can put the body under stress and increase the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This, in turn, can boost the production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone in the body and increase your appetite.
Secondly, sleep deprivation can also make your brain more sensitive to food stimuli according to a study published in the American Journal of Nutrition, thereby making it difficult for you to control food cravings.
Needless to say, both these factors can lead to an increase in your caloric intake and well—an increase in your waist size too. Oops!
2. God forbid, it can cause diabetes too
According to a study published in the journal Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics, poor sleep can cause insulin resistance. Basically, the insulin hormone is responsible for carrying sugar from your blood to various organs in order to provide energy to them to perform their functions.
In case of insulin resistance though, the sugar remains in the bloodstream, as a result of which, the blood sugar levels increase and the body produces more insulin. While the former can lead to type-2 diabetes, the latter can lead to increased hunger and encourage the cells to store more energy as fat.
3. Your metabolism may not be spared either
The wrath of inadequate sleep spares none and your metabolism is no exception to the rule. Nope, not even your resting metabolism, which basically dictates the number of calories you burn while resting and supporting basic bodily functions such as breathing, circulating blood, organ functions, and basic neurological functions.
According to a study published in the journal Obesity, sleep deprivation can lead to a slower resting metabolic rate (RMR).
In fact, it can even slow down your active metabolic rate which is responsible for expending calories while you sit, stand, walk, and exercise.
This is because according to a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, sleep deprivation can lead to muscle loss, and y’all know how important healthy muscles are for calorie-burning and fast metabolism, right?
4. Your workouts may suffer too
There’s no denying the fact that proper sleep can make you feel fresh and active. So, if you’re sleep-deprived, what makes you think you’d have the energy to pull off a great workout or even feel like going for one in the first place with all that fatigue and sleepiness kicking in?
So, does this mean you can sleep to your heart’s content?
Well, if you think these reasons are your free pass to sleep to your heart’s content, you’re highly, highly mistaken. According to numerous studies including the one published in the journal Sleep in 2008, oversleeping can lead to weight gain, fluctuations in blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and type-2 diabetes as well.
In fact, several studies have highlighted how oversleeping can be a result of an underlying medical condition such as anemia and depression, in which case proper diagnosis and treatment is required.
Sleeping for 7-9 hours a night—every night—at the same time—consistently—is what’s going to help you keep your weight in check and prevent health problems such as diabetes and insulin resistance.
Not to mention, you’ve also got to ensure that the quality of sleep is good and deep. This can be achieved using science-backed ways such as sleeping in complete darkness, keeping smartphones aside, limiting your caffeine intake, avoiding irregular/long day naps, keeping your sleep timings consistent, exercising, and eating a balanced diet.