Have you been working out and dieting but still not losing weight as fast as you think you should? Maybe you are not getting a good night’s sleep. If you are not getting enough sleep you could be sabotaging your efforts to lose weight and get in shape.
The other morning at my 6am work out session with my personal trainer, I was complaining about how tired I was and how hard it was to get up so early to work out. He asked a simple question, “How much sleep are you getting?”
That got me thinking about the connection between sleep and weight loss. The first obvious link is that when I am not getting enough sleep I am too tired to get up and go work out; which, in turn, derails my weight loss efforts. What about the less obvious connection between getting a good night’s sleep and losing weightWA? I decided to dig deeper. How important is it to get a good night’s sleep? I found out, it is very important.
Researching the Link Between Sleep and Weight Loss
As it turns out there is a significant link to the amount of sleep a person gets and their weight. Several studies done at the University of Chicago in Illinois, Stanford University in California and other universities across the US show that people who get less sleep gain more weight and have higher percentages of body fat. Why? What could sleep possibly have to do with what I weigh? Well it comes down to hormones; leptin, ghrelin and cortisol.
Ghrelin hormones are your “I’m hungry” indicators; they tell you when your body needs to eat. Lack of sleep causes an increase in ghrelin levels. If you don’t get enough sleep you have more of these hunger hormones telling you that you are hungry. Leptin hormones tell you when you are full. Lack of sleep causes leptin levels to drop. If you do not have enough leptin your body doesn’t recognize that you are full and you over eat. Lack of sleep can increase the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is best known for increasing belly fat. So it turns all that extra food into belly fat! Voila you gain weight or if you are trying to lose weight your efforts are thwarted. What a cycle. Who knew that sleep is that important?
How Much Sleep Should You Get ?
According to a 16 year study presented in 2006 at the American Thoracic Society International Conference women who slept 7 hours or more per night weigh less than women who slept 5 hours or less.Women who slept 6 hours per night were 6% more likely to be obese and 12% more likely to gain at least 33lbs or more. Women who slept 5 hours per night were 15% more likely to be obese and 32% more likely to gain at least 33lbs or more.
That seems pretty significant to me. There are also many other effects that lack of sleep has on your body. The experts say that at least 7 hours of sleep a night is what we need.
Getting enough sleep is even more important if you are working out or stressing the body. When you work out it tears down the muscles so they can rebuild themselves bigger and stronger. Sleep is the time that the body does that. If you don’t give the body enough time to properly heal itself you eventually wear out.
So I guess mom was right, the key to a healthy life is to eat right, exercise and get a good night’s sleep.
Getting more sleep is a relatively simple task but sometimes all of us need help with the other two, eating right and exercising.