This might seem crazy or it might seem like common sense, but sleep actually affects your ability to lose weight. Who knew that sleep benefits weight loss?! I kind of did, but I recently learned about a few studies that proved sleep isn’t just for recovering muscles.
The Research I Read:
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
- Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
- Annals of Internal Medicine
- Nature Communications
- University of Chicago
Now that it’s out of the way, here’s how sleep benefits weight loss:
Sleep Affects Your Diet
When you don’t sleep enough (which is somewhere around 7 hours), you can accidentally be sabotaging your own dieting.
Annals of Internal Medicine did a study with people dieting and they altered their sleep schedules to see if it would affect their weight.
When dieters had less sleep, they didn’t lose as much (less than half) fat compared to when they had a full, good night’s rest. What’s crazy to me is that the dieters felt hungrier when they lacked sleep!
Well this brings me to the University of Chicago. Some researchers from there realized that your metabolism can get groggy – just like your brain! Weird, and when your body doesn’t get enough sleep for 4 days, your body can’t use insulin efficiently.
What the fuck does that mean?!
Your insulin promotes your fat cells to remove fatty acids from your blood and not store the fat. So, when you don’t have insulin working efficiently or enough of it, you don’t have fat cells doing their job, which means fatty acids keep going around in your body, the insulin keeps pumping (but it’s not being efficient) so your body ends up storing fat. No bueno.
This is also how diabetes happens.
I won’t get diabetes, be realistic – what else happens?
When you don’t get enough sleep you get more food cravings. This was actually cool to learn. (I learned from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism)
Your food cravings are actually because of leptin and ghrelin (hormones).
Your fat cells make leptin, and leptin makes you feel not hungry. That means, when you don’t sleep enough, leptin production goes down, and you start feeling hungry all the damn time.
While this happens, ghrelin is the stuff that makes you feel hungry. When your ghrelin goes up, the hungrier you feel and the slower your metabolism gets (burn less calories).
What does this mean? Weight gain. Your body isn’t burning calories like it used to because your hormones are all fucked up, so your body stores fat/gains weight.
How do you control those 2 bad boys? Sleep more than 6 hours, according to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism because of triggering your brain. Less than 6 hours of sleep makes your brain think “Oh! More food! Good-bye leptin, hello ghrelin!”
I heard stress makes you gain weight!
True. When you don’t sleep enough or are super stressed, your cortisol levels go up. Cortisol is kind of the enemy of all enemies here because it makes your brain think you want more food to reward yourself and try to relax.
Sound like stress-eating? Yup.
I’d bet you don’t craving celery to stress eat. It’s not your fault.
If all this isn’t bad enough, Psychoneuroendocrinology found out that when you’re sleep-deprived you want bigger portions of food. So I kind of lied about only having 1 slice of pizza, you’ll probably want 2 or more lol.
That was a lot of information. Sorrynotsorry. There is just sooo much information out there about sleep benefits!
Maybe this can help, or at least these are things that help me.
- I try not to have a ton of sugar or caffeine before bed. I’ll eat a cereal bar or fruit, or drink juice or hot chocolate – but I’m not woofing down candy and coffee.
- I enjoy eating a snack or meal right before bed – you won’t gain weight if you eat before bed so relax.
- If those options fail, melatonin.