Most people these days don’t get enough sleep. We are so busy with work, kids, sports, extra-curricular activities, and keeping the house in order. Sleep is usually the one thing that gets minimized. So we drink more coffee or energy drinks to get through the day, but is that helping us reach our goals? Living in a sleep deficit is not only bad for your brain; it’s bad if you are trying to lose weight.
It’s no secret that a lack of sleep can increase the chances of obesity and diabetes. Studies showing this have been around for two decades, yet a third of Americans say they sleep fewer than seven hours a night, the recommended amount by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. According to WebMD, a few things happen in your body when it doesn’t get enough sleep. Leptin, a protein hormone that tells your brain you’re full, decreases, which means increased hunger. Ghrelin, the opposite of leptin, tells your brain you need to eat and to stop burning calories. Cortisol, a stress hormone, also increases, which tells your body to conserve energy to fuel the waking hours. Insulin sensitivity also goes down after several nights of lack of sleep. Our bodies need insulin to change sugar, starches, and other food into energy. If the body’s insulin resistance rises, the body stores energy as fat, which increases the risk of obesity and diabetes. Research has shown people eat bigger meals, choose more energy-dense foods (high fat and carbs), and lack self-control when they are sleep deprived. Studies have also shown that you can’t just “make up” sleep on the weekends. So thinking you can catch up on Saturday morning by sleeping in, doesn’t do any good. You may feel a little more rested that day, but overall, your body’s metabolic rate is still slowing down in the long run.
Getting more sleep is easier said than done. Here are a few tips to increase your sleep number: Quit using electronics at least an hour before bedtime. Stick to a schedule; get up and go to bed at the same time, even on the weekends. Avoid eating large meals and drinking alcohol before bed as they can cause irregular sleep patterns as well as heartburn. Also avoid caffeine after 2 p.m., as it can stay in your system for up to 5 or 6 hours. Finally, turn down the lights in the evening, which releases melatonin, your body’s natural sleep hormone. Bottom line is, get enough sleep to aid in your weight loss goals. You will feel clearer, have more energy, and your health will thank you for it.