The obesity epidemic represents one of the greatest health dangers that Americans face. Everyone knows that diet and exercise are two of the most important components in the battle against bulging waistlines. Research now knows that there is another component that is just as important as these two. The sleep and weight loss connection is now considered to be the key to success in achieving your weight loss goals.
Effects of Sleep on Weight
Even if you are following a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise, you may be undermining your weight loss efforts if you are not getting enough sleep at night. One way that it affects your weight is that you may be tempted to skip your exercise. In addition, you may be tempted to opt for more convenient but less healthy food choices. Sleep affects the parts of your brain that are responsible for impulse control, which makes it harder not to give into cravings. When your body does not get the energy that it needs from sleeping, it is more likely to crave high carbohydrate foods to make up for the energy lost.
A lack of sleep also affects the hormone ghrelin that tells your body when it’s time to eat. Ghrelin levels are higher when you are sleep deprived than when you are well rested. Leptin is a hormone that tells your body to stop eating. When you are sleepy, leptin levels are low. This means that your body is getting the signal to keep eating to restore energy levels, and not getting the signal to stop. In addition, the stress hormone, cortisol spikes in an effort to try to conserve energy when you are sleep deprived.
Setting Up For Success
When you don’t get the required 7 to 9 hours of sleep for an average adult, your body gets the signal to eat more, but slow down your metabolism at the same time. This is how the sleep and weight loss connection works. These tips will help you get a good night’s sleep.
• Resist the temptation to check your social media networks and cell phone late at night.
• Avoid eating heavy meals at least two or more hours before bedtime.
• Try to make your bedroom as dark as possible.
• Remove unnecessary electronics from the bedroom. All of your messages will be there when you get up in the morning.
• Try to keep a consistent bedtime schedule, even if you do not fall asleep immediately in the beginning.
• Try to engage in something relaxing for at least one hour before your scheduled bedtime.
• Avoid coffee, tea, and high sugar drinks or foods at least two hours before bedtime.
• If you are stressed, remind yourself that there is nothing you can do about it until the morning when you are rested.
Getting proper sleep is extra important to your ability to succeed in your weight loss goals, so turn off that cell phone, log off social media, and turn in early tonight. The scale will thank you in the morning.