Having the best diet plan and fitness regime to lose weight is not enough. Quality sleep is very important too.
What we are aware is that eating the right food and proper exercises are very significant in keeping a healthy body weight. But with several years of research about weight loss has shown a consistent link between insufficient sleep and being overweight. And not just sleep, quality sleep is needed to add into the dieter’s weight loss management.
On average, research claims that the less people sleep, the more they gain weight, and the more they tend to put on excess pounds over time. For instance, middle-aged adults who sleep less than 7 hours every night have higher weights per height. They also tend to be obese compared with those who sleep 7 hours or more.
A study followed almost 70,000 women for 16 years. Researchers found that those who slept 5 hours per night were 32% more likely to gain weight of about 33 pounds or even more, than those who slept at least 7 hours or more. Women who slept at least 6 hours per night were 12% more likely to gain weight at least 33 pounds over the period of the study.
Still, there are several studies that are being done to know the exact mechanisms involved between sleeping and gaining or losing weight. We know that lack of sleep can cause some changes in hormones such as ghrelin (that which increases one’s appetite) and leptin (that which informs us that we are full).
What does this mean? It means that sleepy people tend to feel hungry and eat more energy compared to those who are well-rested. When one is deprived of sleep, his/her brain respond differently to unhealthy foods. Lack of sleep, therefore, is known to lower a person’s metabolic rate and affect the production of insulin.
In short, lack of sleep or not sleeping at all results two things:
Makes you feel hungry even if you are full. When our stomach is empty, our system releases ghrelin, a hunger hormone, that sends a message to the hypothalamus telling us that we have to eat. Generally, ghrelin level is at its highest before eating and lowest about an hour after eating our meals. Studies claim that when we lack sleep, our body releases ghrelin encouraging us to eat even if we are full. With overweight people ghrelin only reduces a bit and because of this, the hypothalamus does not receive a strong signal to stop eating and they tend to eat more.
Increases fat storage. Lack of sleep or sleep loss may disrupt with our body’s ability to metabolize carbs, resulting to increase of blood sugar levels. Hence, excess blood sugar promoted the overproduction of insulin leading to the storage of body fats and insulin resistance. Over time, this may lead to the development of diabetes.
How to Get Quality Sleep that Boosts Metabolism
Sleep is considered a nutrition for the brain where we need from 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. When we lack the required number of sleeping hours, our body will respond in ways that may lead us to creamy and delicious ice cream!
While too little sleep can stimulate a cortisol spike, our stress hormone. It signals our bodies to conserve energy to fuel our waking hours.
In short, we tend to hang on to fat. Over time, we gain weight.
Factors that Interrupts our Sleep
Nicotine. We all know that this is a stimulant that leads to “lighter-than-normal” sleep routine.
Caffeine. This ingredient may take 6 to 8 hours for its effects to completely wear off. It is believed to disrupt our sleep patterns by blocking adenosine receptors.
Alcohol. This offers an initial sedating effect but it can prevent REM or rapid eye movement sleep and the deep stages of non-REM sleep at night.
Exercises at night. Exercise during the day is linked with better sleep at night, however, evening exercise can suspend the release of melatonin that aids somebody fall asleep at night. The National Sleep Foundation suggests leaving at least 3 hours between exercise and sleep, if possible.
Huge meals, excessive fluid intake. It is hard to fall asleep because huge meals can result to indigestion. Likewise, excess fluid intake can also lead someone to wake up frequently to urinate.
Psychological disorders. They can interrupt REM and deep sleep, while depression may result to insomnia.
Environment. The noise, lighting and uncomfortable temperature can disrupt a good night’s sleep.
Medications. Most of the pain relievers has caffeine, decongestants and steroid medications can also interfere with a good night’s sleep, while beta-blockers can make it hard for someone to fall asleep and may cause frequent nighttime awakenings.
Severe, chronic pain. Painful conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia can disrupt sleep, as well.
Useful Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep
Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time each morning, as well, even during weekends.
Exercise in the day for about 30 to 60 minutes on several days per week.
Get yourself a sunlight exposure for about 30 minutes, preferably in the morning for most days of the week.
Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine after noon time. These ingredients can trigger the nervous system, disrupting sleep and keeping you asleep by increasing heart rate, adrenaline levels, and blood pressure.
If necessary, you can take a nap but not beyond 20 minutes after 3 P.M.
Reduce excessive eating and drinking to small amount before going to bed.
Make your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool (about 54 ˚F and 75 ˚F).
Avoid watching television or sitting in front of a computer for at least 1 hour before going to bed.
Avoid lying in bed for beyond 20 minutes. If you cannot sleep, get up and do something that can relax you like reading a book until you feel sleepy.
Visit and consult your doctor or a sleep professional if you continually feel sleepy during daytime, despite sleeping enough hours during the night, consistently need beyond 30 minutes to fall asleep at night, snore frequently and loudly, or frequently awaken, or for a longer time most nights during the week.
Consult and discuss with your doctor or pharmacist other medicine options that disrupt, interfere with sleep.
Ask your doctor about prescription and OTC sleep treatments. These medications may help for short term but they will not resolve any biological concerns that interfere with quality sleep. They can also cause some side effects.
Get melatonin ONLY if you are on a shift work scheme who must sleep during the day instead of at night. Melatonin may help promote sleep during the day.