When it comes to losing weight and getting a good night’s rest, there is a definitive correlation.
Hundreds of studies around the globe have been conducted on this link. And most all results find that if you want to adopt a healthier lifestyle – and reduce your waistline – getting plenty of rest is key.
But how does this relationship work, and how does sleep help you naturally lose a few excess pounds?
Here’s a closer look at the ways that sleep can work wonders when it comes to making and sticking to a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight.
Sleep has a huge impact on two hormones that control our desire to eat, (or not eat), which are leptin and ghrelin.
Ghrelin is a hormone in the stomach which signals to the brain that you are hungry. The levels of this chemical typically spike right before you eat, and lower once your belly is full. Conversely, leptin is a chemical in your fat cells. It signals to your brain that you are in fact full, and then suppresses that hungry feeling.
Sleeps is crucial, as it monitors and regulates both of these chemicals – and all our natural hormones – when we are fast asleep. And if you’re not sleeping well, the body produces more ghrelin and less leptin. As such, you’re likely to feel hungrier throughout the day without ample rest at night.
Ever notice that when you don’t sleep well, you’re more likely to reach for a candy bar than a piece of fruit?
It’s not your willpower that’s strictly at fault – it’s actually your brain!
This is because a lack of sleep dulls the activity in the frontal lobe portion of the brain, which is primarily responsible for our ability to make thoughtful decisions.
As such, without good rest, it’s much easier to succumb to cravings and to seek out instant gratification than to think clearly and make healthier choices. With ample sleep, you automatically have a better ability to gauge the choices at hand, and make a smart decision.
There are a number of reasons why you will naturally consume less calories when you are sleeping well. Besides hormone levels and craving-control, sleep controls your hunger simply because there are less hours in the day to eat.
In fact, there is a recent study that examined individuals who slept 6 hours or less per night and individuals who slept 7 hours or more per night. The study found that the folks who slept more consumed less calories, since they had less hours in the day to eat.
The light sleepers, on the other hand, consumed at least two more meals or snacks per day. And it’s because they were wide awake and had a need to munch every two to three hours.
Your resting metabolism rate (RMR) is the number of calories you inherently burn when you are completely at rest. As it turns out, this number is greatly impacted by your sleep.
On the whole, your muscle mass strongly determines your RMR. And when you sleep, your body naturally repairs and restores your muscles to function at their best during your waking hours.
But without quality sleep, your muscles can gradually deteriorate. And this in turn affects your RMR, as less energy is required to keep your body in working order. In fact, a recent study found that a 22-pound loss of muscle mass can lower a person’s RMR by around 100 calories per day.
This is because when you’re tired during the day, you are far less likely to exercise, and far more likely to indulge in sedentary activities – like watching TV.
But this lack of physical activity can be detrimental to your goal to lose weight!
Not only does exercise boost your metabolism, but it also helps you curb your hunger while giving you something to focus on besides snacking. Conversely, people who have a more sedentary lifestyle are far more likely to munch absentmindedly. This comes as a response to boredom, being tired, or just having a close proximity to the refrigerator.
So when it comes to a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, there is arguably no better (or easier) solution than sleep. For ways to get better sleep this year, check out this recent post!
Just be sure you’re getting eight hours of rest per night. And watch for issues that can interfere with your rest like obstructive sleep apnea. Treating sleep apnea can help you stick to your diet by giving your brain and body the tools they need for a healthy lifestyle.
Get back to good health in 2019! See how we can help you get the sleep your body needs.