Are you having trouble losing weight even though you’ve been watching your calories and have been exercising regularly? If so, the problem might not be the methods you’re employing to help you drop excess pounds. The problem might be lack of sleep.
Believe it or not, but insufficient sleep can have a negative effect on your weight. When you’re short on sleep, your metabolism becomes sluggish, you may be too tired to exercise and you’re far more likely to crave high-fat foods that will throw a wrench in your healthy dieting goals.
Here are 3 reasons why lack of sleep could be making it harder for you to lose weight:
1. Sleep deprivation alters fat cells
When you are deprived of sleep your body suffers from “metabolic grogginess”, a term that was coined by University of Chicago researchers. These researchers analyzed what happens to the body after four days of poor sleep and found that the body’s ability to properly use insulin is entirely disrupted. This is problematic because when your insulin isn’t functioning well, your body pumps out more insulin. An excessive amount of this hormone can result in your body storing fat in all the wrong places, such as in tissues like your liver. This can lead to weight gain and diseases like diabetes.
2. Poor sleep disrupts exercise productivity
You likely don’t find this surprising because if you’ve ever been low on sleep, you know how tired you feel both physically and mentally. However, there’s more to it than that. Researchers from Brazil learned that sleep depravation lowers protein synthesis, which is essentially your body’s ability to make muscle. It also causes muscle loss and can result in a greater risk of injury. In essence, when you’re running on little sleep, physical activity is a challenge and you lack the energy and stamina to workout efficiently. You’re also more prone to injury and it takes longer for your body to heal.
3. Decreased sleep leads to increased hunger
To successfully lose weight you need to control the hormones leptin and ghrelin. These two hormones are related to your hunger levels. Sleep deprivation makes it nearly impossible for you to control these hormones. In fact, according to research published in the “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism”, sleeping fewer than six hours activated the area of the brain that increases the need for food. It reduces leptin (making your stomach feel more empty), and stimulates ghrelin (boosts your hunger and lowers your metabolism). Moreover, insufficient sleep also causes cortisol levels to rise, a stress hormone that is often associated with weight gain.
As you can see, lack of sleep can really put a damper on your fat loss efforts. Obtaining proper sleep is vital for your health and for shedding that unwanted weight.