Could Losing Sleep Derail Your Weight Loss Efforts?

17 10 2014

Do you think that a healthy diet and regular exercise are the only factors in the weight loss equation? Unfortunately, it’s not Cathy head shotthat simple. The human body is the world’s most complex machine, so it only stands to reason that many factors and metabolic processes influence our ability to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Things like stress, medical conditions, menopause, medications, and even the amount of sleep we get, can all impact our weight management success.

The amount of sleep? Really? Yes. Being a working mom, I certainly know the value of a good night’s sleep. After a good 7-8 hours, I wake refreshed, alert, and ready to tackle the day! How often does this actually happen in my busy, crazy life? Much like some of you, not too often! But I always have that goal to shoot for, and here is why you should too:

Studies have shown that lack of adequate sleep can increase hunger and effect metabolism, making it more difficult to lose weight, and may end up causing weight gain. Here’s why:

  1. When we lack sleep, our bodies release the hormone cortisol (also known as our stress hormone) which can make us feel hungry, even when we shouldn’t be.
  2. Sleep deprivation can increase the hormone Ghrelin, which triggers hunger and gets the body ready for food intake. It also plays a role in regulating our reward perception in the brain, which can result in encouraging food intake.
  3. There can be a decrease in the hormone Leptin, which triggers satiety (our feeling of fullness) and helps regulate fat storage and energy expenditure.
  4. Sleep loss can decrease the ability of the body to metabolize carbohydrates efficiently, which can lead to increased blood sugars and fat storage.
  5. Lack of sleep = lack of energy! We are less focused, accomplish less, and are more likely to consume excess calories when we do not get adequate sleep. What do you reach for when looking for energy? My guess is caffeine and sugar. Fatigue can lead to poor nutritional choices that may give you a short term energy boost, but leave you right back where you started in no time. What next? Skipping your workout because you are too tired, picking up fast food for dinner because you are too exhausted to cook……it’s a vicious cycle.

Want some simple tips to get a better night’s sleep?                                                    Sleeping-Man

  1. Try to keep a regular bed time- your body likes consistency.
  2. Establish a bedtime routine that relaxes you. We do this for our kids, why not for ourselves? Take a warm bath or shower, read, listen to soothing music, do gentle stretching , meditate, etc.
  3. Avoid electronics and TV when going to bed. They provide too much stimulation.
  4. Exercise helps improve sleep quality. Have a regular exercise routine 3-4 times a week and, to play it safe, don’t exercise right before bed. This keeps some people awake.
  5. Don’t nap during the day if you have trouble sleeping at night.
  6. Eat a healthy diet. Avoid large meals right before bed and avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the afternoon and evening.

Remember, hours of sleep are going to benefit your health and productivity more than burning the midnight oil. Getting enough sleep will make you more alert and productive when you really need to be!

Tonight, add a good night’s sleep to your weight management efforts. You will be glad you did!

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