Sleep and Weight Loss

Sleeping your way slimmer sounds a little too good to be true...and it is. You can’t just sleep a bunch and expect to lose weight. However, sleep is absolutely critical for your body when trying to lose weight and change your overall body composition. Here are a few reasons you should take hitting the hay a little more seriously…

Lack of sleep hinders your judgement.

Researchers have compared sleep deprivation to drunkenness. When you are sleep deprived, you are groggy. This affects your pre-frontal cortex, which is the decision making and impulse control center of your brain. When you consistently lack sleep you will be less likely to fight cravings and more likely to give in to temptation; less likely to work out and more likely to binge on Netflix; and more likely to opt for foods you consider “rewards” over foods that actually fuel your body well.

Lack of sleep makes you hungry.

A lack of sleep can significantly mess with your hormones, including your hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone that tells your body that it’s time to eat. Leptin is the hormone responsible for telling you you’ve eaten enough. When your body is sleep deprived, it produces more ghrelin while your leptin levels plummet. This means your groggy mind will be all cloudy while your hormones are screaming for more food. This is clearly a recipe for disaster when you are trying to lose weight!

Sleep deprivation also raises your cortisol level. When this happens for a prolonged period of time, your body is overly stressed and will go into preservation mode. Your metabolic rate will slow down and your body will begin to hold on to fat. Again, this is not ideal when you are trying to shed unwanted pounds.

Sleep builds muscle.

Hitting the weights at the gym actually tears down your muscle...which is good, if you give your muscles time to heal. As your muscles repair themselves, your metabolic rate increases and your muscles grow. Muscle growth is important for two reasons: the more muscle mass you have the higher your metabolic rate, and building muscle is what shapes your body. Without the appropriate amount of sleep each night, your body will not have time to repair its muscles and your work in the gym can end up placing too much stress on your body.

Tips for better sleep.

On average, women should get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. This isn’t always possible, especially for those of us who have young children. But, as a rule of thumb, this is a good goal. You will want to listen to your body, too, as some people require more sleep than others.

To improve your sleep, try incorporating the following into your sleep routine:

  • Turn off electronics 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to bed
  • Sleep in a cold, completely dark room
  • Use magnesium spray
  • Do some light stretching prior to bed
  • Create a daily bedtime routine with cues to your body that it is time to wind down

If you are eating clean, working out, and getting plenty of water, but are still not seeing the results you want, try adjusting your sleep patterns to see if that could be affecting your results. I highly promote solid sleep in my FASTer Way program!

Cheers to SLEEP! Jenny