Weight loss tips generally focus on food; but, weight depends on lifestyle, and food is not the only factor in lifestyle. A commonly overlooked aspects that impacts weight is: sleep! Our society seems to almost brag about how little sleep we get or feel like we need; BUT, research shows that people who sleep less weigh more, and there are lots of reasons why.
The most obvious reason is that the longer we are awake, the more we eat. People who sleep only 5 hours ate 6% more Calories each day compared to those sleeping at least 7 hours. Those sleeping 5 hours did burn more Calories; but, only 5% more Calories were burned. People eat (6%) more Calories than they burn (5%), tipping the balance towards “weight gain”. The foods we crave when tired don’t help the situation, either. High fat and high carbohydrate foods are at the top of the list; likely, because we get a burst of energy after eating sugary foods.
Not only do we eat more high-Calorie foods, but hormone levels affecting appetite are also impacted by sleep. 2 hormones control our appetite: Ghrelin tells us that we are hungry and Leptin tells us we are full. In people who sleep 5 hours per night, Ghrelin levels are higher and Leptin levels are lower compared to those sleeping at least 7 hours. So, the body is more likely to tells us that we are hungry and less likely to tell us that we are full when we are sleepy.
Also, because we are tired, we are less likely to exercise, meaning we burn fewer Calories. AND, to make matters worse, the metabolism actually slows when we don’t get enough sleep! The number of Calories burned at rest is lower in people who only sleep 5 hours per night. Research shows that if someone normally sleeping 5 hours per night can get to bed a little bit earlier and sleep 7 hours, they may lose weight!
For those of us already getting at least 7 hours of sleep: GREAT! We won’t likely see weight changes by adding another 30 mins; BUT, quality of sleep is just as important as quantity. Try to maintain healthy sleeping habits and aim for 7-9 hours per night. SWEET DREAMS! 🙂