Routine exercise and a healthy diet are the foundations of most weight loss programs, but there is another important factor that is often overlooked: sleep.
Sleep plays a key role in weight management and recent research shows that people who get the right amount of sleep have a lower body mass index (BMI) than people who don’t. Other research on the link between obesity and sleep shows that not getting enough sleep increases the likelihood of obesity by 89 percent in kids and 55 percent in adults.
Still, the majority of us aren’t getting enough sleep. In fact, about one-third of adults in the U.S. sleep fewer than six hours most nights, according to the Centers for Disease Control, though the recommended amount of sleep is seven to nine hours for adults.
There is a link between poor sleep habits and/or sleep disorders and weight gain. Here are a few of the ways a lack of sleep may be hindering weight loss:
Poor sleep habits increase appetite.
Numerous studies have found that people who are sleep deprived eat more. This is likely due to the hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin signals hunger in the brain and leptin signals fullness. Studies have found that ghrelin levels are higher and leptin levels are lower in people who get less sleep.
Lack of sleep makes it harder to resist cravings.
Simply put, we have less self-control when we are tired. In addition, if you are sleep deprived, the reward centers of your brain are more stimulated by food.
Resting metabolism may decrease with less sleep.
Your resting metabolic rate is the number of calories your body burns when you’re at rest. Some research indicates that poor sleep may lower resting metabolic rate (although other studies have found no correlation).
Poor sleep means less energy to exercise.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but when you’re feeling fatigued, you’re likely to be less motivated to exercise and will tire more quickly during physical activity. Getting more sleep can help you increase intensity and duration of exercise and improve athletic performance.
Sleep deprivation leads to insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone that helps your body burn sugar as energy. As the cells in your body become insulin resistant, more sugar remains in the bloodstream, resulting in increased insulin production. The more insulin you have in your body, the hungrier you will be and your body will store more calories as fat. Studies have found a decrease in the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar with less sleep.
Living a healthy lifestyle that encourages weight management means making time for regular exercise, eating healthy foods and getting quality sleep. The connection between sleep and weight gain can be a vicious cycle, as people who weigh more tend to have a harder time getting good sleep.
If weight is a struggle for you, contact your First Baptist Medical Center weight loss doctor today to learn more about how we can help you get started losing weight to improve your sleep habits and overall health.