You may be one of those people who have tried anything and everything to lose weight, to no avail. You may have already sweat your heart out, gone through those oh-so-popular popular diets, and consumed all the weight loss shakes you can swallow. But for some reason, nothing is working. There’s one more thing you haven’t tried: SLEEP.
This may come as a surprise to you, but it’s highly likely that you’re not getting enough sleep, and that’s the reason why you’re not losing weight. Yes, sleep. People don’t normally associate sleep with weight loss. In fact, some people who are obsessed with losing weight try to make their schedules as packed as possible, keeping their minds and bodies active.
Interestingly enough, giving your body the adequate sleep that it needs is one of the secrets to losing weight, so you shouldn’t take it for granted. Conversely, being sleep-deprive can actually lead to weight gain, and this is the last thing you want to happen.
Here are some reasons why in the realm of weight loss, sleep could be your best friend:
Mind over matter
Weight loss is definitely a physical thing, but there’s also a lot of it that’s mental. Your brain decides what to eat and what not to eat, convinces you that you can complete an exercise routine no matter how difficult it is, and basically brings your body to the finish line of your weight loss goal. Lack of sleep affects your brain, making you lose mental clarity.
Aside from making bad decisions, lack of sleep and fatigue also rev up your brain’s reward centers. This increases your tendency to look for comfort food and crave for all the bad stuff. In other words, you can’t think straight. So don’t expect your sleepy brain to follow your strict diet to a tee.
Shoo away the hunger hormones
Think of sleep as food for the brain. On average, you need 7-9 hours of sleep EVERY night, and that gives your brain the rest and ‘nutrition’ it needs to function properly the following day. If you deprive your brain of this, it will react in ways that your diet will never forgive you for. Its weapon? Hormones.
Ghrelin is a hormone that tells your brain when it’s time to eat. Deprive yourself of sleep, and your body makes more ghrelin. On the other hand, leptin is a hormone that tells your body to stop eating because you’re full. Deprive yourself of sleep, and your body makes less leptin. Now it doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that if you put two and two together, sleep deprivation is definitely bad news for your weighing scale.
Midnight snacks, anyone?
Say you’re ‘burning the midnight oil’, perhaps because you’re finishing something for work, cramming for a long exam, or going for a marathon of your favorite television series. Whatever’s keeping you awake at such an ungodly hour, you will need to sustain your wakefulness, and that’s unfortunately when people tend to eat all the bad stuff.
First, it may be a cup of coffee. Then you’ll add a bar of chocolate. Or maybe two. Then you find yourself looking for something salty, so you open a bag of chips, saying you’ll just eat a handful. Before you know it, you’ve finished the entire pack. You’re thirsty again, so you get yourself a glass of soda. Now think about all the calories you’ve consumed, all by yourself, simply because you were not asleep.
Burn baby burn
Your body is smart, and it reacts in ways that ensure your survival. If you’re sleep-deprived, your stress hormone cortisol spikes up and signals your body to conserve energy, so that you’re somehow still functioning. In layman’s terms, that means it holds on to your fat deposits.
Those who get enough sleep also burn MORE calories while at rest compared to those who are sleep-deprived. Sleep also boosts fat loss, because your body is more efficient overall.
Spend energy wisely
You may not realize this immediately, but if you don’t get enough sleep, your body will make sure you pay for it the following day. Sleep is essential for our bodies to recharge, so sustained wakefulness means your body is running on overdrive and may soon lose battery. You will be zombie-like, your brain will not function properly, and your energy will go kaput.
Now if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important for you to exercise regularly and have good eating habits. This is impossible if you keep depriving yourself of sleep, because in the first place, where will you get all the energy to exercise?
By getting a good night’s sleep, you’re replenishing your body’s energy and making sure that as you wake the following day, you get to spend that energy wisely.