Sleep to lose weight
Diet and exercise are usually thought of as the two key factors that will help us lose weight. However, sleep is often an overseen factor that plays an important role in helping you lose weight.
It is recommended that adults get between seven to nine hours per night, but many people often sleep for less than this. It is proven that sleeping less than the recommended amount is linked to having greater body fat, increased risk of obesity, and can also influence how easily you lose weight on a calorie-controlled diet.
The science behind it all!
Loss of sleep has also been shown to impact on food selection and the way the brain perceives food. Researchers have found that the areas of the brain responsible for reward are more active in response to food after sleep loss when compared to people who had good sleep. This would explain why sleep-deprived people snack more often and tend to choose carbohydrates and sweet snacks, compared to those who get adequate sleep.
When we eat food, our bodies release insulin (a hormone that helps to process the glucose in our blood). However, sleep loss can impair our bodies’ response to insulin, reducing its ability to process glucose. In the long term, this could lead to serious health conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. An excess of glucose, both from increased intake and a reduced ability to uptake into the tissues could be converted to fatty acids and stored as fat. This can accumulate over the long term, leading to weight gain. If you want to lose weight and find it hard to do so, sleep may be the issue for you. Explore your sleeping patterns and see if you meet the recommended amount to ensure your weight loss efforts are not being sabotaged.
On the bright side.
In a positive note, physical activity may counteract against the impact of poor sleep. Along with people tending to eat less after exercise, exercise may protect against the metabolic impairments that result from a lack of sleep, by improving the body’s response to insulin.
It’s clear that sleep is important in helping us lose weight. Sleep should certainly be considered as essential alongside nutrition and physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle in your plan to lose weight. Why not join WeightMatters to start your weight loss journey today?
Eat a High-Fiber Diet
Eating high-fibre, less-processed foods is key in helping to lose weight, as well as preventing most chronic diseases. Plus, it may even help your sleep! While research isn’t conclusive, two separate studies found that individuals who ate low-fibre diets that were high in sugar and refined carbs were much more likely to experience poor-quality sleep, compared to those who ate more fibre and less added sugar. The reason is not fully understood, although some speculate that sleep may be disrupted by a drop in blood sugar, since added sugars and refined, carb-rich foods trigger a larger, quicker reaction in glucose and insulin.
Weight Loss Tip: High-fibre, less-processed foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains are what sustainable weight loss programs are centred around, since these foods are high in nutrients while being lower in calories, added sugars and sodium. You are likely already focusing on these foods if you’re trying to lose weight, so use the possible benefit of better sleep as additional motivation to continue with smart eating choices.
Exercise helps to lose weight but being physically active also helps you sleep better! Though the mechanism isn’t fully understood, research suggests those who get regular exercise—regardless of length or type of activity—sleep longer and get more of the deep, restorative sleep that’s essential for the body, compared to those who are less active.
Weight Loss Tip: Burning calories and sleeping better is a double win when trying to lose weight, so establish (and stick with) a regular workout schedule. At WeightMatters, I encourage you to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, but if you cannot squeeze in a trip to the gym, even a short 10-minute walk or workout may result in improved sleep that night.
Get Some Sunlight
Do you struggle to fall asleep? Making a point to step outside a few times a day and get a little sunlight may help. The reason has to do with the body’s circadian rhythms, which orchestrate and oversee our internal clock and schedule. Light and darkness influence these rhythms, so incorporating brief snippets of sunlight into your day can help remind your body it’s time to be awake and alert. The goal is that as the day ends and gets darker, your circadian rhythms will respond by helping the body relax and fall asleep easier.
Weight Loss Tip: Going outside for a two- to three-minute walk cues the body rhythms to promote sleep later that night when it is dark. If that is not an option, open the blinds or sit by a window, and avoid sitting in the dark for long periods during daytime hours.
Hydrate Early in the Day
Keeping the body hydrated is key for weight loss, and apparently also for getting adequate sleep! A recent study found that individuals who got six hours of sleep or less were much more likely to be inadequately hydrated, compared to those who slept seven to nine hours. However, getting up several times a night to go to the bathroom could disrupt your overall sleep, so how do you hydrate to support weight loss and sleep without a full bladder waking you up during the night?
Weight Loss Tip: Determine your daily water goal; spread those ounces out through the day and emphasize getting most of it by mid-afternoon. To make it easy, I carry a water bottle and aim to consume 75 to 80 percent of my goal by 3 or 4 p.m. This way I get adequate hydration while still allowing my body plenty of time to absorb and excrete it. You can still have water and other fluids after that; just don’t use the late afternoon and evening hours to get the majority of your daily hydration.
Skip That Glass of Wine
Losing weight on the WeightMatters programme is not about deprivation; all foods (and drinks) can fit into a healthy weight loss approach. And if you like to have an occasional drink, then you are probably already opting for a lower-calorie cocktail like a glass of wine or light beer. However, there is more to know about that drink than just the calorie count.
Even though alcohol is a sedative and can help you initially fall asleep, the aftereffects—even from just one drink—can trigger less-restful sleep a few hours later. In fact, a recent study suggests that one to two glasses decrease your restorative, deep sleep by 24 percent. Less sleep + dehydration = not a good combo for weight loss.
Weight Loss Tip: If you drink, enjoy a cocktail or two on occasion—just do not make it a nightly habit. Even though you may not feel the effects from one drink per night, the sleep loss slowly adds up. Also, be aware that the more you consume, the amount of restful sleep decreases