Weight-loss basics: A guide to sleep for weight loss

Nutrition and exercise are not the only building blocks when it comes to losing weight quickly and safely. Believe it or not, sleep has a huge influence on how you lose and maintain weight.

Poor sleep has been proven to lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain and an increased risk of obesity and other chronic health conditions. 

How does lack of sleep affect me?

Before we talk about how a lack of sleep and affects your weight loss, let us take a moment to discuss how serious sleep deprivation is. Did you know that if you get six hours or less of sleep you triple your risk of having a car accident? 

When you are sleep-deprived you take ‘microsleeps’ where you close your eyes momentarily. The scary thing about this is you may not realise that you fall asleep for a few seconds. You are more distracted when you get inadequate sleep, especially when doing something like driving. Your hand-eye coordination is also poor when it comes to steering. 

Sleep deprivation makes you hungry

Lack of sleep affects your body’s ability to regulate the neurotransmitters that are central to appetite. The neurotransmitter ghrelin promotes hunger, and the neurotransmitter leptin contributes to feeling full. Your body naturally increases and decreases the levels of these neurotransmitters throughout the day when you have enough sleep. 

When you are sleep deprived, these neurotransmitters do not function normally and signal to your brain that you need to consume calories. Studies have also shown that sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to choose foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates

Sleep affects your metabolism

Although sleep cannot increase your metabolism to burn more calories, not getting enough sleep can hamper your metabolism’s ability to function correctly which can lead to weight gain.

Lack of sleep leads to metabolic dysregulation and gets in the way of your body processing insulin properly. When your body doesn’t respond to insulin appropriately, it has trouble processing fats from your bloodstream, which means it ends up storing them as fat rather than burning them for fuel.

In addition, too little sleep triggers a cortisol spike in your body. This stress hormone tells your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours. This encourages your body to hang onto fat rather than burn it.

How can I get the best sleep for weight loss?

If you are looking to lose weight quickly and safely, we recommend getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night. 

Getting enough sleep in, to complement your weight loss efforts, is simpler than you may think. You can follow these best practices to ensure you get a good night’s sleep every night.

  • The first thing you can do is set a specific bedtime for yourself and stick to it. It is best to go to sleep and wake up at about the same time every day. If the times that you go to sleep and wake up fluctuate, you can wreak havoc on your body and seriously affect the quality of sleep you are getting. 
  • The second thing you can do to get a better night’s sleep is to practice good sleep hygiene. This includes regulating everything you do before going to bed. 
  • Our advice is to abstain from any intake of tobacco, alcohol, and sugar at least two to three hours before going to bed and to stop your caffeine intake around six hours before bed. We also recommend that you refrain from strenuous exercise in the hours leading up to your bedtime. 
  • The last, and possibly the most difficult thing you can do to get better quality sleep, is to ditch technology before bedtime. We advise eliminating all blue light from smartphones, tablets, and computers one to two hours before bed. These technologies signal to your brain that it is time to be awake and stimulated. Cutting out the use of devices before bedtime lets your brain know that it is time to sleep.

For more helpful information and simple tips to lose weight quickly and safely, stay tuned to our blog.