Things you’ll learn in this blog
Losing weight is a constant battle for many of us, and it’s easy to believe that all you need to do is focus intensely on a brutal exercise routine and deny yourself calorie-dense foods.
And while moving and restricting unhealthy foods will help you towards your goal - it’s not always the only thing you need to consider (especially for women who can have many more factors and hormones at play).
In fact, both diet and exercise can count against you if you don’t consider other factors - one being sleep deprivation.
And often, if you are trying to lose weight and diligently getting up before work to hit the gym - your sleep might suffer.
While exercise is important, you still need to ensure that you are getting a consistently good sleep schedule - It’s all part of a holistic approach to weight loss.
So, in this blog, we’re exploring the link between sleep and weight loss/gain and how you can improve your sleep quality.
- Related content: Sleep hygiene, what is it (and how to improve it)
Why is sleep a good sleep important?
Sleep is the bedrock of your health - it is one of the essential human functions without which we would literally die (but don’t worry, this only happens if you physically never sleep).
It allows your body and mind to recharge and helps you remain healthy and combat illnesses. Most adults require between seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
As a result, exercise or dieting should fit in with your sleeping pattern - not the other way around.
Sacrificing an hour of sleep to work out will only slow your weight loss and stop your muscles from repairing correctly.
How does your sleep impact weight loss?
Apart from the fact that lack of sleep can make you feel grumpy and make you unpleasant to be around, it can impact your health and your ability to lose weight.
This is going to impede your ability to lose weight - so let’s explore why that happens…
You make worse decisions when sleep-deprived
One of the most common symptoms of sleep deprivation is an inability to make logical decisions. We've all suffered a bad night's sleep and felt woozy the next day, struggling through our work and making unusual mistakes.
Unfortunately, this is terrible news for your weight!
Trying to lose weight is a constant struggle that relies heavily on willpower. It helps if you can say 'no' to sugary and calorific foods and 'yes' to intense exercise. For many people, this goes against natural human impulse and is especially tricky if you are accustomed to giving in to temptation.
In comparison, a restful night's sleep boosts your cognitive function (including decision-making and impulse control), which helps you manage weight.
You'll also find it easier to motivate yourself with challenges like dieting, fasting and the gym.
This means good sleep makes it easier to stick to your healthy diet, exercise and avoid those pesky sugar cravings.
Your body craves quick sources of energy
Another reason getting enough sleep is vital for weight loss is that when you're tired, your body naturally craves accessible sources of instant energy.
When you are tired, you are more likely to drink a sugary energy drink, scoff a chocolate bar or eat empty carbs like pizza or white pasta.
These unhealthy foods and drinks will make you feel better in the short term, but your waistline won't like it. One bad day of eating isn’t the end of the world, but if you eat like this over weeks and months it will soon add up.
Succeeding with weight loss is all about making life easy for yourself. By getting a full night's rest, you will put yourself in the best position to avoid unhealthy, fatty and sugary foods and beverages and make the correct dietary decisions.
Sleep helps you manage your food cravings
A good night's sleep helps you manage your worst food cravings. This is especially true for overweight or obese individuals with deeply entrenched eating habits.
Trying to overturn habits of a lifetime isn't easy when you aren't fully present in the moment or wide awake. This is because your body will fall into autopilot when you are sleepy. You will start repeating learned behaviors that are likely to satisfy it and 'survive' until you catch up on sleep again.
Moreover, appetite regulation can become tough to deal with mentally and emotionally. It can feel like one half of your brain is saying one thing, and the other half is saying another.
You are far more likely to feel emotionally vulnerable or short-tempered when tired. As a result, you may struggle to process your weight loss routine emotionally.
Enough days like this, your motivation falls apart, resulting in a failed weight loss regimen.
Your metabolism requires sleep
If you want to boost your metabolism, you need to experience a longer sleep duration. Your metabolism burns more calories throughout the day and night. When well-rested, your body can burn calories more quickly and efficiently.
In contrast, studies have shown that people who sleep less have a slower metabolism, making your life twice as tricky as before you have even started.
And as you get older, your metabolism is already slowing, so you don’t want to make this even more difficult. The same can be said if you are already overweight.
However, you can naturally increase your metabolism by getting enough sleep, eating the right quantities of healthy foods and getting in the gym.
Your hormones will change
Sleep helps keep your hormones in balance, which controls your bodily functions and ensures you have the right instincts or cravings at the right time. More specifically, adequate sleep helps regulate the hormones which dictate hunger and satiety - including ghrelin and leptin.
The hormone ghrelin is known as the "hunger hormone" since it tells your brain when you're hungry.
As you might have guessed, Leptin is called the "satiety hormone" because it tells your brain when you're full.
When you're sleep-deprived, your ghrelin levels increase, and your leptin levels decrease, making you feel hungrier and less satisfied after eating. This can make it much trickier to stick to a healthy diet and lose weight.
Plus when running on a lack of sleep, your body is likely to produce more cortisol the "stress hormone". Cortisol helps your body deal with stress but unfortunately, an excess of cortisol often leads to weight gain, especially in the abdominal area.
Furthermore, people with poor sleeping habits tend to suffer from higher levels of inflammation. This can cause weight gain and metabolic disorders as inflammation disrupts the normal functioning of hormones and enzymes required to create a metabolism, which inevitably leads to weight gain.
All in all, it pushes your hormones out of sync, and working against your hormones to try and lose weight is like fighting an uphill battle.
The more energy you have, the better your workouts
Have you ever struggled through a workout on a lack of sleep?
Chances are you didn’t put your all into that workout - you were just counting down the minutes til you could go home.
One of the strongest links between sleep hygiene and weight loss is the increased energy levels you feel when you get a good night's sleep. When you sleep deeply (without waking up groggy), it is like a natural hit of caffeine that lasts all day.
This makes you more active because your body wants to burn off the excess energy. If you are currently struggling with lethargy, this can make it far easier to start an exercise routine - such as walking, running, climbing or hiking.
In turn, this will make it easier to continue your good sleeping habits because you will be exhausting your body by the end of each day.
If you have a regular gym routine involving intense weight training, high energy levels help you to power through. Plus sleep allows your muscles to recover quickly, and you will find it easier to train for different types of strength. Put simply, if you get better sleep, you can train longer and faster - speeding up the weight loss process.
When every step on the weight loss journey is painfully tricky, self-inflicted obstacles like this can spell doom for your efforts.
Once a poor sleep cycle starts, it can be difficult to stop
If you have ever slipped into poor sleep habits, then you will understand all too well how torturous your nights can become.
When you are already overtired and know you need to sleep, you pile pressure on yourself to fall asleep quickly - which rarely happens.
The longer you sit there, self-conscious about how awake you are, the less likely you are to fall - and stay - asleep. This cycle can snowball until you're only getting an hour or two of shut-eye per night.
When you are conscious about losing weight quickly and know how crucial sleep is to your progress, you can find it challenging to relax and let go when you go to bed. You may try too hard to switch off when the best course of action is to forget all about your sleeping problem.
To solve this, staying up deliberately until you are too exhausted to keep your eyes open or find practical methods for falling asleep faster is advisable.
How to improve your sleep cycle
If you are struggling with your sleeping routine, don't worry; help is at hand.
Here are a few proven ways to help you create and maintain good sleep hygiene:
Wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day
Arguably the best single action you can take to overcome your sleep disorder is to designate a specific time to go to bed and wake up in the morning.
A specific sleep schedule will train your body clock to switch on and off correctly. For example, if you fall asleep around midnight every night - and then wake up with your alarm at 8 AM - your body will subconsciously wake you up at that time.
Once you get into a sleep schedule you’ll find that you fall asleep and naturally wake up (without an alarm clock) at the same time every morning. This is an indication that you are getting enough sleep.
This is vital because it means your body can regulate your REM cycle more effectively, allowing you to feel the full benefits of a good night's rest.
Stay away from screens before bed
We are all glued to screens from dawn till dusk in the modern world. However, when you are about to go to bed, these screens can severely decrease the likelihood of you switching off straight away,
This is because the blue light emitted by screens suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. Essentially, your body thinks this is daylight, making it instinctively wake up as if preparing for a full day.
As a result, you should avoid screens for at least an hour before bed.
Write down any thoughts you have
Many people struggle to sleep due to mind chatter. This is when your mind is buzzing with ideas, worries, plans and mental stimulation from the day just gone.
Once you start switching your mind back on, it can be tricky to switch it back off again.
If you've been told that worries are ten times worse at night, you will understand how this phenomenon can stop you from sleeping.
To help tackle it, keep a journal by your bedside. Whenever you have a burning thought, write it down in full. Once you have done this, your mind will stop thinking about it.
Make sure your sleeping conditions are comfortable
Lastly, you must ensure you're fully prepared for sleep. Ensure that your bed is large enough, comfortable, and warm.
Also, cut out any light from outside with blackout curtains or an eye mask, and play white noise or music if you live in a noisy neighborhood.
Ready to improve your sleep and weight loss?
Sleep is essential when it comes to your weight loss efforts. It can help to regulate your glucose metabolism and improve your energy levels for physical activity. It can also give you the emotional strength you need to follow through with your fitness goals.
Of course, improving your sleep quality isn't easy, which is why you need to be kind to yourself. Don't pressure yourself into sleeping because this will only worsen the situation. Nor should you feel the need to give up on your weight loss goals if you are struggling to sleep occasionally.
You must implement some or all of the sleep improvement tips mentioned above and be patient. Then, your sleeping routine will soon fall into place.
If you need a little help then our PhenQ PM formula can help boost your metabolism as you sleep, as well as promote 7-9 hours of slumber - so you can stick to your goals during the day. Buy now with our 60-day money-back guarantee here.