When you’re trying to lose weight, sleep is probably the last thing on your mind. But research has shown, if you getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night, it may be hindering your weight loss goals.
University of Chicago Medical Centre looked at the effect of sleep on fat loss in participants trying to lose weight. The research found that those who got a full night sleep (7-9hours) lost weight that was 50% fat, as opposed to the sleep deprivers (5.5hours), who had only 25% fat loss. Another important point to note was they’re calorie intake stayed the same!
In another study, researchers followed over 60,000 women for 16 years asking them questions relating to their sleeping habits, weight and diet. At the start of the study, all women were within the healthy weight range (BMI 20-25). The study found that short sleeping women had a 30% higher risk of gaining 15kg over the course of the study, compared to their counterparts.
So what’s sleep got to do with it? Here are a few possible ways sleep deprivation could increase weight and our chances of gaining weight.
- … Increases ghrelin levels “hunger hormone”– Higher levels make us hungrier, which often results in consuming frequent, larger portions of food. It also has been shown to reduce energy expenditure – meaning the body holds onto energy – promoting fat retention.
- … Increases cortisol levels “stress hormone” – high levels of cortisol increase blood sugar levels, if cortisol remains high, sugar in the blood will be stored as fat.
- … Intensifies cravings for ‘comfort’ foods. In a large review3 of 18 studies, researchers found sleep-deprived participants tend to crave high fat, energy dense foods.
You could say sleep is nutrition for our brain! Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
Try these sleeping tips to get a better nights sleep
- Find ways to relax in the evening. The evening is for winding down – it’s not a time to tackle big issues. Run a warm bath, meditate, or read a book.
- Shut down electronics – make a pact to turn tv, mobile and computer off at least an hour before bed.
- Have a schedule – and stick to it. Our body likes a routine. Wake up and going to sleep at the same times every day.