• Martha Lewis

The Surprising Link between Sleep and Weight Loss

If you struggle with your weight and wish you could lose a few (or many) pounds, you’re not

alone. According to a National Health and Nutritional Examination survey in the US, more than 2 in 3 adults are overweight or obese, more than 1 in 3 adults are obese and more than 1 in 20 adults have extreme obesity. Those are pretty staggering figures!

Trying to lose weight can be a frustrating battle. Many people will try anything they can get their hands on, including appetite suppressants and nutritional supplements.

There are countless philosophies and diets out there: carb-free, gluten-free, paleo and vegan, just to name a few. Lots of people adopt a new diet and exercise regime all gung-ho and 100% committed only to give up two weeks later when they don’t notice any difference in their waistline.

But what if your inability to lose weight isn’t because you’re lazy or not committed enough?

What if you can't lose weight because of insomnia or poor sleep habits?

According to the Centre for Disease Control, there is research to support the idea that lack of sleep results in metabolic changes that could be linked to excess body weight. One study

published in the International Journal of Obesity found that middle-aged women with sleep

disorders are more likely to have weight issues than other women who get a good nights’ sleep.

Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep, says, “It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will

lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly.”

There are two hormones that are secreted at night while we sleep that are specifically related to weight loss:

  • Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat. When you’re sleep-deprived, your ghrelin levels are elevated, which makes you hungrier and far more likely to reach for the unhealthy snacks.

  • Leptin is the hormone that tells you when you’re full and lets you know you should stop eating. But if you aren’t sleeping well, you body makes less leptin.

This, combined with the fact that your metabolism slows down when you don’t get enough sleep, seems to point to the issue many people have: they might be exercising and trying to eat right, but if they aren’t sleeping well, it’s an uphill battle.

If you have been struggling with your weight and you haven’t been getting an average of 8 hours of sleep a night, it might be time to really look at your sleep habits and see what you can do to improve them. Just trying to tackle the weight gain while you continue to sleep 5-6 hours a night or toss and turn and wake up frequently isn’t going to do the trick.

It’s time to focus on sleep first. And you might just be amazed to see how many other parts of your life improve once you start getting the rest your body needs. You will feel less stressed and have more energy to exercise. And your hormones will be balanced and will stop telling you to eat when you don’t need to.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

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