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Better Sleep Can Support Your Efforts to Lose Weight

People who get fewer than 5 hours of sleep per night could be at a 15% greater risk of becoming obese. If you’re working hard to shed pounds, but still not seeing results, your sleeping habits may be the missing link. Understanding the connection between sleep and weight loss will help you come up with solutions to tackle sleep deprivation and improve your overall health.

Hormonal Changes from Lack of Sleep Affect Diet

Lack of sleep triggers the appetite stimulating hormones leptin and ghrelin, causing you to feel hungrier. Sleep deprivation also affects the endocannabinoid system in the brain, which increases the sensation of pleasure derived from food and causes you to choose sugary, more fattening snacks. Melatonin, the hormone associated with sleep, also plays a role in controlling metabolic function, cueing to the metabolism when it should and when it should expend energy. Taking a melatonin supplement or consuming dietary sources of melatonin close to bedtime can aid in hormonal regulation for better sleep.

The Cycle of Stress and Sleep Deprivation

Stress can make it difficult to get a full night of uninterrupted sleep, and in turn, feeling fatigued after a restless night can make coping with day to day challenges more difficult. When you’re feeling tired, you’re less likely to and lack the energy to exercise. Furthermore, stress brought on by sleep deprivation triggers the production of cortisol, which increases appetite and causes the body to retain more calories. To combat the effects stress can have on your quality of sleep, your bedroom should be a peaceful and relaxing environment, free of distractions like clutter, light and noise. Disruptive noises in your sleeping environment can contribute to stress, as the mind continues to register sound even in its resting state. Loud noises can also trigger a stress response as your body reacts to a perceived threat of danger. Using earplugs or ambient noise to block out sound can help you get a better night’s rest, reduce stress and lower your risk of obesity.

Synchronizing Your Diet with Your Circadian Rhythm 

Your hunger cues are directly tied to your body’s circadian rhythm, which means eating at times when you should be sleeping can throw your body off course and lead to overeating. Sleeping fewer hours also gives you more time to snack lack at night. Late night eating can lead to indigestion, making it uncomfortable to lie down and rest. Exercising early in the morning and eating breakfast can help set the course for the rest of your day, and help you time your meals for better sleep.

Sleep deprivation can take a toll on many aspects of your health and wellbeing, including your weight. Getting a full night of uninterrupted sleep gives you the energy and clarity to make healthier lifestyle choices. Take steps to address negative influences on your sleeping habits, it may bring you closer to achieving your weight loss goals.


Contribution by freelance writer Karoline Croft

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