January 10th, 2022 by
Yes, you read that right – sleep can help you lose weight. It might seem counter-intuitive – after all, how can lying in bed burn calories? But the truth is, you can follow all the diet plans and exercise regimes you want but if you are not getting enough sleep, you may be undoing all your good work.
Doesn’t sound plausible? Here are 8 reasons why improving your sleep can help you to lose weight:
You’ll be able to make better food choices
Believe it or not, but eating at night doesn’t necessarily cause weight gain. It’s just that when we eat late at night or when we’re tired, we often don’t eat as healthily as we would in the day. Poor quality sleep dulls the activity in the frontal lobe of the brain. The frontal lobe controls decision making and impulse control. Unless you have the mental clarity that comes with sufficient sleep, it can be hard to make rational, sensible decisions about food. If you’re tired out, a quick microwave meal or a bag of crisps will seem much more appealing than a healthier option.
You’re less likely to feel stressed
Sleep deprivation can raise cortisol levels in the sympathetic nervous system. Cortisol is related to stress so this can leave you feeling more anxious and seek comfort in food or skip exercise. It can also further compromise your ability to sleep, creating a vicious cycle. How many times have you had to set your alarm for an early rise, only to stress whether you’ll get enough sleep?
You get a more accurate release of hunger hormones
The feelings of hunger and fullness are signalled by hormones ghrelin (indicates your stomach is empty and you’re hungry) and leptin (indicates fullness and tells you to stop eating). Lack of sleep can raise ghrelin levels and reduce leptin, making you feel hungry even if you don’t need to eat.
You’ll have more energy to exercise
Good sleep allows your body to recharge and provides you with the energy you need for the next day. Having plenty of energy means you’re more likely to be motivated to exercise and undertake other physical activity, which burns more calories. You’re much more likely to skip the gym if you’re feeling tired and lethargic.
You’re less likely to crave high-calorie foods
There is a reason why ‘comfort foods’ have that name; we crave them because they give us a quick hit of satisfaction. When you’re sleep-deprived, the reward centre of your brain is desperate for something – anything – that it thinks will make you feel better. It’s stimulated more by high-calorie foods, and that quick comforting snack will seem all the more tempting.
Your body finds it easier to burn calories
As well as the motivation to exercise more, getting enough sleep enables our resting metabolic rate (RMR) to function properly which helps us to burn calories more successfully. It also aids fat oxidation, the process of breaking fat down.
You’re less likely to snack late at night
The longer the period after eating an evening meal, the more likely you are to get hungry again so if you regularly go to bed late, you’re not only reducing the amount of sleep you get, you’re increasing your chances of consuming more calories. This vicious cycle continues as late-night eating can cause heartburn or acid reflux which will further disrupt your sleep.
In conclusion, getting better sleep will give you more energy, mental clarity, less stress, better decision making, and more normal hormonal and physiological responses. All these things will support a healthier lifestyle and help you to lose weight.
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