Could lack of sleep be causing you to gain weight? It could be that your simply too tired to commit to a healthy lifestyle. Who wants to go to the gym or spend 15 extra minutes preparing healthier food when they’re wiped out and just want to lay on the couch. Well, there could be more to it than just that. There are some solid scientific reasons why a lack of sleep could be contributing to weight gain.
Losing Sleep Causes Stress
Losing out on sleep creates a vicious cycle in your body, making you more prone to several factors contributing to weight gain, and you could be suffering from the symptoms of sleep deprivation, even if you think you’re getting enough zzz’s. “We used to think you needed a significant amount of sleep deprivation for it to have an effect on weight. It turns out that’s not true,” says Michael Breus, Ph.D., a sleep specialist and author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep. A mere 30 minutes of sleep loss could make you more likely to gain weight.
“The more sleep-deprived you are, the higher your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite,” says Breus. And that’s another problem, when you’re tired you’re less likely to make healthy choices.
“When you’re stressed, your body tries to produce serotonin to calm you down. The easiest way to do that is by eating high-fat, high-carb foods that produce a neurochemical reaction,” Breus says. Those high carb foods increase blood sugar levels and, guess what? Lack of sleep reduces your fat cells ability to deal with insulin by 30%. See the vicious cycle here? This is not good news for the weary.
Lack of sleep slows your metabolism
When you’re sleep deprived ghrelin levels rise. Ghrelin tells you when you’re hungry. Leptin levels simultaneously decrease, which means it takes longer to feel full.
Lack of sleep will trigger your body to enter survival mode. Lack of sleep can trick your brain into thinking you’re in danger. “Your metabolism slows because your body is trying to maintain its resources, and it also wants more fuel,” says Breus. “I would argue that sleep is probably the most important thing a person can do if they’re ready to start a diet and lose weight”.
Develop a sleep routine
Sleep is essential to good mental health and physical health. It greatly impacts your mind and body, so ensure that you make sleep a priority. Practice good sleep hygiene. Find a routine that works for you and make it a daily part of your self-care.
If you struggle with insomnia, anxiety or restless legs you may need to dig a little deeper to discover what helps settle in for the night and get a deep rejuvenating sleep. You can check out our article about calming nighttime anxiety if anxiety is an issue for you.
Another tool to consider adding to your repertoire is a weighted blanket. For myself, the founder of Sleepify Inc., these simple but wonderful blankets changed everything for myself and my son who both suffered with insomnia and restless sleep. You can read more about what they are and how they help in this article.
Sleep is good self-care
Sleep is the most cherished component of my self-care routine. And I can tell you from personal experience that fixing my “sleep health” has had a massive impact on my health and well being. I hope the same for you.
Wishing you a great sleep and great health,