How Sleep Affects Your Weight

News and Advice, Weight Loss
on June 27, 2011

Anyone who is trying to lose weight probably has the typical weight loss mantra down: Exercise daily; eat low-calorie foods; control your portions — the list goes on. What many people don’t realize is that sleep is absolutely essential to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and is necessary for good health in general. The right amount of sleep may be the deciding factor between hitting those weight-loss goals and never being able to push past that plateau. The reason seems to be a mix of hormone levels and mental well-being, which affect your hormone levels as well as your motivation to exercise.

Appetite hormones. According to the University of Chicago, in reference to a study it performed on how sleep impacts weight, “When sleep was restricted, dieters produced higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger and reduces energy expenditure.” People who receive less sleep than their body needs are more likely to be insatiably hungry during the day and more likely to crave high-calorie food. In addition, lack of sleep can lead to feelings of fatigue due to these imbalances, prompting some people to consume far more caffeinated beverages such as coffee.

Fat loss. It is estimated that people who get adequate sleep lose about four times more fat per given amount of weight loss than those who do not get enough sleep. This means that the body responds to weight loss efforts in a more health and constructive way and doesn’t reduce the body’s ability to burn calories by destroying muscle tissue to supply needed energy.

Mental well-being and weight. Lack of sleep raises the risks of issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as lack of focus, which may lead to stressful situations. Stress and depression are leading causes of weight retention and can also lead to lack of motivation when it comes time to exercise. In addition, those who are depressed or stressed due to sleep loss are more likely to seek out “comfort foods” or eat more than is healthy during normal meals. Getting adequate, good quality sleep can have a huge impact in reaching your dieting goals, as well as promoting overall good health and happiness.