Sleep is great isn’t it? Think about how refreshed and alert you feel after a good night’s sleep. But did you know that sleep isn’t just good for our mental health and alertness, but sleep is also crucial to helping you on your weight loss diet.
What’s interesting is that the amount of sleep you get each night can directly affect your diet and weight loss journey.
How much sleep do you get?
People who get less sleep tend to weight more and find losing weight harder, than those who are getting a good amount of sleep each night, even if they are following the same weight loss diet plan.
This is because when you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body overproduces the hormones that cause hunger, leptin and ghrelin. With these being overproduced, it makes you more likely to snack or overeat and feel less satisfied when you do eat, meaning you need more food to feel satiated.
Getting less than 6 hours sleep a night can also negatively affect your willpower, meaning that your brain makes more impulsive, comfort-based decisions.
Lack of sleep causes cravings
A sleepy brain and body also produce more of the stress hormone, cortisol, which, combined with ghrelin means you’ll crave more food than you normally would and will need more food to feel satisfied and dull the cravings.
Unfortunately, cortisol doesn’t make you crave nice, healthy things either. Cortisol triggers the reward centre in your brain, which means that sugary or salty foods are on the menu, so you might find yourself reaching for higher-calorie snacks, rather than your fruit or veggies.
A study by the Journal of Obesity took a group of healthy-weight individuals, some of whom spent five nights sleeping for four hours and others for nine hours a night.
The individuals were then shown unhealthy foods versus healthy foods. The findings showed that the group who only slept for four hours had increased activity in the reward centre when shown high-calorie foods like pizza, cake and sweets, showing that a lack of sleep could lead to poorer food choices, which over a sustained period of time, can lead to weight gain and obesity.
Are you active when you’re tired?
Aside from affecting your food choices, being tired, both mentally and physically, means you’re more likely to skip exercise in favour of resting. On top of that, even if you do manage to talk yourself into exercise, if you are truly exhausted, you might find that you are less energised and unable to train to the best of your abilities.
However, if you can get moving, even if it’s just for 15-30 minutes, it will help re-invigorate you and can help with getting a more peaceful night of sleep.
Sleep well and reach your weight loss goals!
Another study into the sleep vs weight loss debate, made by Kaiser Permanente Centre of Health Research in Portland, USA, discovered that patients who slept around six to eight hours a night had a much better chance of achieving their weight loss diet goals than those who slept less than six hours a night.
It found that lower stress levels, due to better sleep, were closely associated with weight loss success. This proves that someone who is under a lot of stress and getting poor sleep, will find it much harder to stick to their weight loss programme than their well-rested counterparts.
However, what is important to remember about sleep, is whilst it can increase willpower and strengthen your good decision making, weight loss cannot be achieved simply by getting a healthy amount of sleep.
A good diet and exercise weight loss programme is key to helping you achieve your goals and getting into a healthy BMI and weight for you.
Let us help you
If you’re struggling to get a decent amount of sleep a night, you can get more advice about how you can drift off easier from the NHS website or if you want personalised, 1-to-1 support from an expert Doctor, or our weight loss specialists, who can give advice and support on how to help you get back into good sleeping habits alongside finding a diet and exercise programme that will help you to lose weight and improve your health.
Our Doctors and clinic staff are here to support you, however you need, on your weight loss and well-being journey.
Book an appointment today and find out how they can change your life.