Sleep and Weight Loss

Sleep: The Forgotten Weight Loss Pill

So you’ve lost the initial 20-25 pounds but you have stalled on the final 10 pounds towards your goal weight. Your diet is on point and your workouts are killer so what’s the problem? SLEEP, or the lack there of. Keep reading to find out how sleep deprivation may be holding you back from those last few pounds.

No ands, ifs, or buts about it, diet and exercise are the keys to weight loss. One more important factor often forgotten is sleep. The Center of Disease Control has found that 35 percent of people are sleep deprived. Much of this is caused by our fast paced and busy lives. Sleep often gets the short end of the stick.

So how much does sleep affect weight loss? A study of 1,000 twins showed a link between sleep patterns and body mass index (BMI). The study found that people who slept less than 7 hours had a higher BMI than people who slept greater than 9 hours. Another study from the Annals of Internal Medicine found that about half of the weight lost in people who got adequate sleep came from fat loss. The amount of fat loss in people who were sleep deprived was cut in half. Even though both groups were eating the same diet, the sleep deprived group reported being hungrier after meals and lacked the energy to exercise.

How does sleep effect weight loss?? In one word, hormones. Sleep deprivation can cause havoc with your hormone levels. Hunger has always been thought of as an issue of will power or being able to shut off the noises your stomach is making, and not I am not talking about the bubble guts. Actually hunger and satiety are controlled by hormones. Sleep can have a big effect on the hormones responsible for controlling hunger as well as fat storage.

Insulin is what I call the “key to the cells” and is a hormone produced by the pancreas in response to eating. Insulin is responsible for “telling” the cells to absorb nutrients(glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids) from the bloodstream. A study at the University of Chicago looked at the effect of sleep deprivation on insulin sensitivity. Decreased insulin sensitivity is the primary cause of diabetes type 2. The study found that sleep deprivation for as little as four days can lead to decreased insulin sensitivity, causing nutrients to not be taken up by the cells for storage or energy. Decreased sensitivity also makes fat storage occur much easier.

Hunger is primarily regulated by two hormones, leptin and gherkin. Leptin is “the satiety hormone” or the hormone responsible for inhibiting hunger. Ghrelin is “the hunger hormone” or the hormone that causes hunger. Research from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that less than 6 hours of sleep triggers the need for food in the brain. Leptin production is depressed and ghrelin production is increased, making it very difficult to not overeat. To make matters worse, there is a rise cortisol production. Cortisol, or the stress hormone, can increase hunger as well. The combination of increased cortisol and ghrelin equals less satisfaction even after a mean, leading to continued hunger even after eating a full meal.

Sleep not only effects fat loss but muscle mass as well. In 3 Reasons #CardioSucks I talk about the effect muscle mass has on metabolism or how many calories you burn at rest. A study from Brazil found that sleep deprivation leads to a decrease in protein synthesis, which makes maintaining or building muscle mass much more difficult. Less muscle mass leads to a lower metabolism and a higher likelihood of injury. Sleep deprivation also slows the production of growth hormone(GH). GH is pivotal in the recovery of workouts and is released during both sleep and exercise. Sleep is an important period of time for regeneration after a hard workout. GH has a fat burning effect as well by increasing insulin sensitivity or creating a much more favorable environment for fat loss. The primary factor in decreased GH production is increased cortisol. Increased cortisol will decrease GH production.

With the importance of sleep to weight loss and body composition here are a few tips to help you get quality sleep.

1. Turn off all electronics, and especially things that emit blue-light an hour before bed.
The blue-light emitted from phones tricks our bodies into thinking it is day time. IPhone now has a feature that turns off the blue-light emissions.
2. Save your bedroom for sleep and of course that other bedroom activity.
Don’t sit in bed doing work, surfing the Internet, or even watching tv. This can make it hard for your body to decipher when it is time to go to sleep or not.
3. Create a bedtime ritual
Doing the same thing each night will tell your body it’s time to wind down. Taking a warm shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music maybe rituals you can implement to help you get to sleep.
4. Include physical activity in your daily routine.
Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy a deeper sleep. Be careful of working out too close to bedtime, it may leave you too amped to fall asleep
5. Write down all your thoughts or stress of the day.
This is a great journaling exercise to help you clear your mind before bed. Thoughts and ideas racing through your head can keep you up at night but writing them down will help you remember and eliminate the fear of forgetting the next day.

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