Getting adequate sleep (about 8 hours nightly) helps with weight loss, improves blood sugar, increases the immune system, improves memory and may decrease your risk of heart disease. Getting enough sleep may also improve your mood.
Whether you burn the candle from both ends, have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or have another sleep related issue, you may be hurting your chances to lose weight. Lack of sleep can causes weight gain and makes weight loss more difficult.
How Does Lack of Sleep Affect Weight Loss?
Lack of sleep leads to poorer decision making.
Lack of adequate sleep leads to overeating or binging. When we’re tired, our decision making ability is poor and are more likely to make impulsive choices. In addition, our brains are more apt to crave comfort foods. What’s more, late night snacking increases and we are more likely to choose high carbohydrate types of foods.
Lack of sleep affects hunger and fullness.
The two main hormones that affect your appetite are leptin, which makes you feel full, and ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry. When we are lacking sleep, our ghrelin levels go up and leptin levels go down — leading to increased hunger and more eating — and weight gain!
Lack of sleep affects our metabolism.
There is also another hormone called cortisol, which rises when we are sleep-deprived. This hormone tells your body to conserve energy, which can also result in weight gain.
Poor sleep has also been found to result in making your metabolism less efficient. Lack of sleep causes your body to respond poorly to insulin (another hormone you’ve probably heard of). When your body does not respond well to insulin, this causes high blood sugars and increased fat storage — leading to weight gain.
10 Ways to Get More Shut Eye (and Lose More Weight)
There are some very simple things we can do to increase the amount of sleep we get each night.
- Stop all electronic devices (computers, TVs, smart phones, iPads, etc.) at least 1-2 hours before bedtime. Believe it or not, the light that is emitted from the screen keeps you awake.
- Only use your bedroom for sleep. This creates a clear association between being in bed and sleeping.
- Set up a bedtime routine and stick to it. Take a warm bath or shower, listen to relaxing music, read a book or meditate so you are relaxed when it is time to sleep.
- Keep the same bedtime routine and schedule every night — even on weekends. Keeping a consistent waking time and bedtime helps promote better sleep.
- Avoid heavy foods and alcohol too close to bed time. These foods/beverages can keep you awake and may cause heartburn.
- Avoid caffeine at least 5-6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate and soda.
- Keep your bedroom dark and cool. Darkness tells your body to produce melatonin — a natural sleep hormone. Light stimulates your brain to decrease melatonin, which increases wakefulness. Being too warm also makes sleep difficult.
- If you have sleep apnea, make sure you are being treated for it and using your CPAP machine if needed.
- Keep a sleep diary and track your sleeping patterns/routines. This diary can help pin-point what might be keeping you awake and helping you fall asleep.
- If you still are having trouble sleeping, talk to your primary doctor and/or sleep specialist (pulmonologist) for further assistance.
Remember — adequate sleep is an important part of your overall healthy lifestyle and weight loss success!
WebMD, Sleep More, Weigh Less, accessed 4/24/15.
Dietitian’s Corner by Lori Skurbe
Dietitian’s Corner is a monthly column for post-op and pre-op patients of bariatric surgery in NJ written by Prime Surgicare’s Lori Skurbe. Lori has been a dietitian for over 20 years with an extensive background in weight management, bariatric nutrition and diabetes education.