Sleep myself skinny? Does a good nights sleep really help you lose weight and regulate your metabolism?
I heard someone once say that if you give your body the rest it needs will enable you to lose weight without changing your diet or fitness regime. Hmmm, interesting…. Let me follow this up. What I found was seemed quite true from my experience of poor sleep habits. Have a read and share your experiences/ thoughts with me.
What happens during sleep:
During deep sleep your brain releases a large amount of growth hormone which tells your body to brain down fat for fuel. Without sufficient sleep there is not enough growth hormone, resulting in extra calories as your body stores away the fat. In addition, poor sleep increases your appetite. People who sleep less have a slower metabolic rate.
OK, so I tend to agree with lack of sleep increasing MY appetite. I’m not sure about the noticing anything different about the quantity/quality of growth hormone released (so I’ll have to take that as verbatim), but what I do know is, that when I’ve had an absolutely rubbish night of sleep and wake up feeling tired, drained and exhausted I am literally drawn to eating sugary foods, lots of coffee (and cake to have with my coffee), I start to eat larger portion sizes too and never quite feel satisfied..
Once I eat something I have an immediate hit of energy and I feel better. Well good enough to get through the next few hours in the day. And then when that food/ sugar has been digested, I find myself reaching for more food. A vicious cycle.
OK, so now let’s look at the specific down side of poor sleep habits:
- Your skin looks pasty, eyes puffy, dark circles under your eyes
- You become a poor decision maker (this is because your prefrontal cortex shuts down, this front part of the brain controls logical reasoning). I know this poor decision making has effected my food choices and because I’m soooo sleepy, I give myself permission to skip the gym.
- Your insulin production increases and your body starts to store more fat easily (obesity, hypertension, diabetes).
- You have problems completing tasks.
- Ability to speak or remember diminishes. Difficulty focussing and concentrating
- Irritable or irrational.
- You burn fewer calories, as your body burns more during REM sleep (refer sleep cycles), and REM sleep only happens in your deep sleep phase.
- You are less likely to lose less fat if you do lose weight. The National Centre of Health Statistics found that adults/ dieters who got less than 5.5 hours sleep actually lost lean body mass and were hungrier, than people who got more than 8.5 hours sleep.
Both insufficient sleep and poor quality sleep make your body want to store fat, not burn it.
Let’s look at the obesity and sleep rates over the last few decades:
|Obesity Rates in US adults||Average sleep US adults|
We can see that while our average sleep hours decrease every night from 8.9 hours in 1960 to 6.5 hours in 2012, our obesity rates have increased from 13.4% in 1960 to 35% in 2010.
While obesity can be caused by many things, it is interesting to ponder the question….. Hmmmm, how is the poor sleep affecting my body weight? Am I eating better or worse when I’m tired? Am I making better or worse decisions when I’m tired? Do I feel happier or sadder? Anxious or calm?
Are your hormones causing your body to gain weight?
Hormones are your bodys way of telling you to go, pause or stop (just like traffic lights). Some things to notice what happens to hormones are:
- Ghrelin the ‘get some food hormone’ is boosted with poor sleep, resulting in feeling hungrier
- Leptin the ‘stop eating’ hormone is reduced with poor sleep, resulting in feeling out of control.
- Cortisol is the stress hormone. This can only be controlled with proper sleep. Cortisol converts stored energy into usable energy, which puts energy into your fuel tank/ body via glucose. High cortisol leads to breakdown of muscles and not fat. Increases desire for carbohydrates.
Wow… The evidence certainly seems stacked against poor sleep habits…. And maybe just by getting the extra hours of sleep every night will trim down your waist line without changing any thing else. Anyhow food for thought.
Share your comments below, I’d love to hear about any insights feedback you may have.
National sleep foundation http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need
National centre for health statistics http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/overweight/overweight_adult.pdf