Lack of Sleep Packs on Pounds, Here’s How To Avoid It

6 minute read

Not getting enough sleep can make you tired, irritable, and unable to concentrate during the day. Recent studies have found that chronic sleep deprivation can also impact your weight.

Most people think that exercise and diet are the only factors that influence weight, but not getting enough sleep can also cause you to pack on some unwanted pounds. Understanding how this link is created

The Link Between Sleep and Weight

Recent studies have found that losing sleep can cause you to gain weight. Working late into the night, scrolling through social media on your phone all night, or working irregular hours can all impact your sleep and your metabolism.

Sleep deprivation was linked to changes in gene expression that contribute to slower metabolism and weight gain.

DNA methylation changes are caused by continued patterns of disruptive or irregular sleep. These changes have been linked to obesity as well as the development of type 2 diabetes.

The genes that regulate adipose tissue function are also changed, and this affects the way in which fat cells absorb fatty acids. These absorption rates impact how and where you store fat.

Along with changes at a genetic level, a lack of sleep influences your hormones too, specifically those that control appetite. Sleep deprivation reduces the amount of leptin in your body, which is the hormone that suppresses your appetite. This means your appetite is always on.

The hormone ghrelin also increases when you don’t get enough sleep and this induces more frequent feelings of hunger.

Sleep deprivation also impacts what you eat the next day. Being tired causes your brain to function at less than optimal levels, which means your reasoning about what food to eat is weakened. You crave more sugar-laden foods when sleep deprived and also tend to eat more throughout the day, both of which contribute to overeating and weight gain.

On average, adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. With today’s hectic schedules, this is not always attainable. The problem is that most people think they can make up for any lost sleep the next day or even the next week.

Sadly, when it comes to sleep you cannot repay your “sleep debt” all in one night, or even in one weekend. Your body never gets used to a lack of sleep, and your health will eventually suffer if not corrected.

In addition to gaining weight, continually missing out on restful sleep can cause a number of health problems, including

♦ Memory issues

♦ Trouble concentrating

♦ Weaker immune system

♦ High blood pressure

Sleep Hygiene: Sleeping Those Pesky Pounds Away

Since there is a link between losing sleep and gaining weight, it stands to reason that getting the restful sleep you need will promote healthy weight management. Along with a balanced diet and regular exercise, getting a good night sleep is the best way to achieve weight loss and an optimal weight.

Sleeping keeps production of hormones like leptin and ghrelin under control. Making sure you get your seven to nine hours each night keeps leptin levels high and your appetite low.

| Related: How to Sleep Better Naturally: Mental Breaks After Work |

It also ensures that ghrelin levels stay low and hunger stays away. Cortisol (the stress hormone) levels are known to increase with a lack of sleep, and this hormone also causes increased appetite.

The frontal lobe of your brain is responsible for decision-making and self-control. A lack of sleep hinders this lobe’s ability to function properly. When you are sleep deprived, your brain’s reward centers are more stimulated by food, specifically sugar-laden or high-fat treats.

With your decision-making compromised, you are more likely to seek and eat those unhealthy treats. Sleep ensures you are thinking clearly the next day and can resist unhealthy temptations.

Sleep deprivation lowers your resting metabolic rate, causing you to burn fewer calories while at rest than you would normally. In addition to this, poor sleep causes muscle loss, and muscles burn more calories than fat.

When you get enough sleep you have more energy for the next day. This encourages you to exercise or get regular physical activity.

| Related: Why Sleeping on Your Left Side May Be Bad for You |

Studies have found that increased sleep enhances your athletic performance. You can get all the energy you need for working out with a balanced diet and a good night’s sleep.

A lack of sleep has been linked to increased insulin resistance in your cells. When this happens, excess glucose stays in your bloodstream, which increases you risk for diabetes and obesity.

The Bottom Line

Getting enough sleep is a factor in getting and maintaining a healthy weight that is often overlooked, as many do not realize the impact it has on your health and your weight. There is a trifecta of a healthy lifestyle that includes sleep as much as exercise and diet.

So, make sure you eat right, make time for the gym, and make time for sleep. Reaching and maintaining your ideal weight can be as easy as counting sheep.

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