What if you were unknowingly telling your body to store the food you eat as fat? What if I could prove that you’re sending make-me-fat messages to your brain every night that you deprive your pillow of your undivided attention?
It may sound extreme, but there is one lifestyle factor that directly impacts your body weight, and it’s a factor that most people neglect on a routine basis.
That lifestyle factor is your sleep habits. Studies have shown that the amount of sleep you get on a regular basis directly correlates with your body weight. If you sleep more, you’ll likely weigh less, and vice versa.
Your body has a complicated algorithm that considers many different factors when determining the number you see on the scale, including your muscle tone, eating choices, and activity level.
Sleep is just one of those factors, but it’s one that most people neglect because they simply don’t realize how important it is to your weight and overall health.
① Sleep Deprivation Makes You Hungry
When cortisol hits your brain, it delivers a message that your body needs nourishment. In fact, that message tells your brain that you need high-calorie foods to produce the energy needed to get through the day.
This produces the sensation of hunger that prompts you to stop what you’re doing and find something to eat. The higher the levels, the hungrier you may feel.
When you don’t get the sleep you need, your body starts to produce more cortisol than necessary, leading to a constant sensation of hunger even though your body doesn’t need the nourishment.
According to the American Heart Association, you can easily take in an extra 500 calories every day that you go without adequate sleep. What happens to those excess calories? They bless your fat cells, and you gain approximately two pounds per month.
② Weight Loss Is harder than Necessary
Studies completed by the American Health Association have shown that well-rested dieters lose as much as 55% more fat than sleep-deprived dieters.
They may all restrict calories or switch to more nutritious foods, but those who receive adequate amounts of sleep will lose more fat than those who do not.
How and Why?
Research has shown that sleep deprivation reduces the body’s ability to utilize insulin effectively. After just four days of sleeplessness, your body starts to process insulin with approximately a 30% deficit, and it only gets worse from there.
Why’s that Bad?
One of the insulin’s primary jobs is to instruct your system to eliminate lipids and fatty acids naturally accumulating in your blood.
When your body sleeps on the job and insulin is prohibited from doing that job, those fatty acids and lipids make their way to your liver and other dangerous areas for storage.
Not only does this impact your ability to lose weight, but it also puts you at risk for diabetes and other diseases.
You may drink coffee or an energy drink to wake your brain up and get your legs moving, but you can’t do that to your fat cells. You can’t force your body to make better use of insulin unless you’re willing to hit the pillow more often.
③ Exhaustion Gives Ghrelin the Upper Hand – Meaning More Food Cravings
There’s a battle raging inside your body every single day. The hormone Leptin is telling your brain that your body has received adequate nourishment, so you no longer need to eat.
The ghrelin hormone is telling your brain that your body needs nourishment, and it’s time to find more food. Leptin delivers a sensation of satisfaction and fullness, but ghrelin gives you a feeling of hunger.
When ghrelin wins, your metabolism slows down so that your system burns calories at a lower rate. This is your body’s natural survival instinct to preserve what calories are in left in your system until the stock is replenished.
Unfortunately, this means that your body naturally burns fewer calories when ghrelin jumps in and tells your brain that it’s time to eat.
Studies have shown that sleeping less than six hours a night gives ghrelin the upper hand. Leptin and ghrelin will naturally battle it out, delivering the correct sensations based on how much nourishment your body needs at any moment.
Sleep deprivation throws that out of sync, giving ghrelin the power to take over. This lowers your metabolism and giving you constant cravings for food which make controlling your weight more difficult.
④ Physical Limitations
Sleep deprivation also makes it harder to get through your workouts and increases the chances of you skipping a workout to lounge on the couch with a bag of chips.
When you do push through the exhaustion to workout, you may not get the full benefits because sleep deprivation interferes with protein synthesis which is needed to build stronger muscles.
It can also decrease your growth hormone production, preventing your body from recovering from an intense workout quickly.
To make it even worse, you’re more likely to get injured during a workout when you’re tired.
⑤ Sit Still & Burn More
Studies have shown that people burn more calories in a rested state when they’re well rested. This means your body will burn more calories as you sit at your desk typing or lounge on the couch if you just give it more sleep. You can burn up to 20% more calories after eating a meal just by getting more pillow time each night.
⑥ Rest Up for Success
If all of that weren’t enough to convince you to make your bed a priority each day, let’s add one more incentive.
Well-rested people make better decisions in all areas of life than sleep-deprived people.
There are two things that happen when you go without sleep:
- The frontal lobe in your brain is desensitized
- The reward center in your brain is energized
The frontal lobe is less efficient at presenting sound logic and reason when you make a decision, and at the same time, the reward center is sending messages that it’s okay to have a little fun.
You are more likely to eat unhealthy foods, skip your workout for watching television or call off work to go shopping.
You will always suffer the consequences of these decisions, so it’s best to keep that frontal lobe rested up and ready to keep your impulses in check.
If you want to lose weight and live as healthfully as possible, definitely change your eating habits and add as much activity to your daily life as possible.
While you’re at it, make sure to adjust your sleeping habits so that you don’t sabotage the results you should see from those lifestyle changes.