Is it possible that a lack of sleep, or poor quality sleep, could be negatively affecting your weight loss goals? Or even making you fat?
According to recent research this seems to be exactly the case.
At the University of Chicago’s General Clinical Resource Center researchers followed 10 overweight, but healthy participants aged 35-49 who according to body mass index were considered overweight. The participants were given an individualized balanced diet that reduced their calories by 10% of what was needed to maintain their weight without exercise (roughly 1,450 calories per day).
Each participant was studied twice: the first time studied participants slept on average 7.5 hours over a fourteen day period, the second time for only 5.5 hours over a fourteen day period.
The researchers found that when sleeping less it reduced the participants fat loss by 55%. It was also found, that when participants got adequate sleep their ghrelin levels were lower. (High ghrelin levels reduce energy expenditure, increase hunger and promote fat retention.)
In conjunction with Stanford University the University of Chicago went a step further by looking at the leptin (leptin sends a signal to your brain to tell you when you are full) and ghrelin levels in 12 healthy men after being subjected to two days of adequate sleep and two days of sleep deprivation. They found that when sleep was restricted leptin levels went down and ghrelin levels went up. Thus, resulting in increased appetites and an inability to get full. They also found that the participants had an increased craving for high carbohydrate, calorie dense food.
Finally, Standard and the University of Wisconsin then took this even a step farther. They had 1,000 volunteers report the number of hours they slept each night. Then measured their leptin and ghrelin levels and charted their weight. Not surprisingly they found that those who slept less had lower leptin levels, higher ghrelin levels, weighed more, and had a higher level of body fat.
If you’ve been dieting and exercising, but having trouble losing weight, check your sleep. We each need between 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Even if you sleep less and don’t think you need it you probably do. Many of us have become accustomed to functioning with sleep deprivation that we no longer remember what it feels like to be fully rested. Sometimes we just don’t know how bad we felt until we feel good again.
Ask yourself, “When was the last time you got a solid eight hours? When was the last time that happened regularly?”
During the hours spent asleep is when all the good stuff happens in your body. Cells repair and regenerate. Hormones function better and regulare. Aches and pains lessen with adequate sleep. And changes in the body’s appearance happen easier.
This is not to say that sleep is the entire answer, but it could be a missing link and the reason you are not getting the results you are looking for.
Not everyone has an easy time sleeping or staying asleep. But there some things you can do to help improve the quality of the sleep you get.
#1. Allow yourself the opportunity to get a full 8 hours and go to bed and wake up at the same time each night.
#2. The hours spent asleep before midnight seem to make a bigger difference than the hours spent asleep after midnight.
#3. Put down the iPad, iPhone, and shut off the TV at least a half hour before you go to bed. The light from these devices stimulates the brain and triggers a wake up response. If you need something to do to relax before bed, read a book, write in a gratitude journal, or take a hot bath.
#4. Do not eat and then immediately go to bed.
#5. Keep your bedroom cool. 68 degrees seems to be the sweet spot.
#6. Keep your room quiet and dark, free of artificial light.
#7. Avoid alcohol before going to bed.
#8. Cut back on caffeine.
#9. There is no research on this, but numerous people seem to sleep better when they take their daily fish oil before going to bed.
#10. Take five minutes to foam roll and stretch before going to bed.
Everyone can run on less sleep for a while, but it will catch up to you eventually and take a toll on your physical health.
Some signs of sleep deprivation are:
#1. Waking up tired.
#2. Increased irritability.
#3. Having trouble concentrating.
#5. Decline in job performance.
#6. Sleeping through your alarm.
#7. Making poor decisions.
#8. Lack of motivation.
#9. Stiff and achey joints.
#10. Frequently sick or not feeling well.
#11. You are not recovering as quickly from your workouts.
#12. Your strength is decreasing.
#13. Your gaining fat and losing muscle.
Get your sleep! It will make a difference in the person you are.