Why We Sleep

Weight loss is a holistic process that requires physical and behavioral changes. Not only should you review and adapt your diet if you want to shed some pounds, but assess whether or not there are any other lifestyle factors that might be affecting your weight loss progress. Most people underestimate the power of adequate rest, and that right there is why so many are struggling with excess weight.

In aid of Sleep Awareness Week, we want to assess how sleep impacts weight and what you can do to get a better balance.

Why We Sleep

Sleep scientists have come up with many reasons why we sleep. Chief among these is to give your body time to restore whatever you lost while awake. According to the restorative theory, sleeping gives your body the chance to rejuvenate itself by performing some key therapeutic processes such as muscle growth, protein synthesis, tissue repair, and production of growth hormone.

What Happens When We Miss Sleep?

Sleep is a complex process, and your body has a way of letting you know that it’s time to hit reset. Just like you feel hungry when you have not eaten for a while, going for long without sleeping makes you fatigued. What happens next?

1.    Increased Appetite

Thanks to our busy lives, most people counter sleepiness by taking caffeine. While caffeine helps in keeping sleep at bay, lack of sleep could be making you gain weight. Studies show that depriving your body of sleep increases stress levels and causes more production of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can increase your appetite. Besides, studies show that sleep deprivation results in higher levels of hunger hormone ghrelin. In short, the more you miss sleep, the more you want to eat.

2.    Lower Self-control

Sleep deprivation can hinder sound decisions. The frontal lobe of your brain is charged with decision making, and lack of sleep slows down how it operates. Your body also tends to want to reward you when you work for long hours. After 2 am, it becomes hard to resist those high carb treats. As a result, sleep restriction causes cravings to run high, increasing the likelihood of overeating.

3.    Slowed metabolism

Your metabolism plays a crucial role in determining how much weight you lose and whether you can maintain your new weight. A high metabolic rate can help you burn fat faster, and prevent you from gaining more. Though you may be exercising more, and keeping the carbs away, studies now show that sleep deprivation can slow down your metabolism. Slowed metabolism means that your body is conserving more energy, and this can slow down weight loss.

4.    Insulin Resistance

Insulin is a hormone that regulates your body’s blood sugar. When you eat a high-carb meal, insulin is produced in response to the high levels of blood sugar. With insulin resistance, your brain has no idea that there is already enough blood sugar, and in turn, you become hungrier and eat even more. Though there are other causes, studies also show that lack of sleep can lead to insulin resistance, a condition which could leave you at high risk of being overweight or developing type II diabetes.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to weight loss, adequate sleep is as important as exercise and healthy eating. Lack of sleep changes how your body works and could be the reason why you are not losing weight. If you want the pounds to go away, it’s time to update your weight loss strategy to include enough sleep. If you are having trouble getting enough sleep, stay ahead of the game by booking a behavioral consulting session with an expert to discuss behavior changes.


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