Sleep and Weight Control
Staying fit means taking care of your health. Eating right and maintaining an active lifestyle is obvious, but it also includes sleeping well. Although sleeping is the exact opposite of exercise, it’s an essential part of staying healthy and maintaining fitness, allowing your body to recover effectively and function at its best.
When you’re sleep deprived, you’re not operating at 100 percent. You can’t give anything your all, and that means everything suffers. Not just your mood and energy, but your body’s ability to recover from workouts, your willpower to avoid easy junk food, and your overall health. Sleep deprivation puts you at a greater risk of conditions including obesity, weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes.
If you’re truly concerned with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and controlling weight, you can’t neglect your sleep needs. Even if you’re working hard, even if you’re overwhelmed with responsibilities. Sleep is non-negotiable and you need it to stay healthy and control your weight.
Dieting and Sleep
If you’ve ever been to tired to bother making a real dinner (or squeeze in a workout), or you feel like you need a quick sugary snack on a tired afternoon, you know that sleep deprivation can have an effect on your self control and diet. When you’re sleep deprived, it can be difficult to maintain self control and say no to the foods you know you should avoid. Sleeping for less than five hours at night makes you more susceptible to consuming more calories and carbohydrates while drinking less water, and for many, that’s a recipe for diet disaster.
Exercise and Sleep
Of course, your diet is only a piece of the puzzle. Even if you’re able to maintain a healthy diet and work out while sleep deprived, you’re still going to suffer and hamper your progress. That’s right: you can eat right, work out, and check all the healthy lifestyle boxes, but if you’re not sleeping, you won’t see the results you would if you were getting enough sleep.
How does sleep deprivation shoot your healthy lifestyle in the foot? The details lie in muscle recovery, particularly the higher levels of cell division and release of human growth hormone that happens while you’re sleeping.
When we sleep, the body restores and repairs itself. This is especially important for recovery after a workout. So if you’re working out and not getting enough sleep, your body isn’t repairing itself effectively. And that means your body isn’t effectively supporting the building of lean muscle mass you need to burn fat and calories for weight control.
How Sleep Affects Hormones
A lack of sleep can do more than derail your diet and muscle recovery: it can throw off weight-regulation hormones as well. When you’re sleep deprived, ghrelin (the hunger hormone) production increases, and leptin (the satisfied hormone) decreases. Essentially, sleep deprivation tells your brain that you’re not as full as you really are, and that you’re hungrier than you really are. It encourages overeating and can lead to weight gain.
How Sleep Can Help You Control Your Weight
Sleep is an essential part of any lifestyle, and especially if you’re working hard to control your weight. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can neglect sleep, an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and see success in maintaining a healthy weight. Diet, exercise, and healthy lifestyle choices all work together to help you control your weight, and sleep is a key part that you just can’t forget.
Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.