7 ways in which sleep can help you lose weight

If you are trying to lose weight, the amount of sleep you get can be as important as your diet and exercise.

Unfortunately, many people do not get enough sleep. In fact, about 30% of adults sleep less than six hours on most nights, according to a study conducted in American adults (1).

Interestingly, growing evidence shows that sleep may be the missing factor for many people struggling to lose weight. Here are seven reasons why getting enough sleep can help you lose weight.

1. Lack of sleep is a major risk factor for weight gain and obesity

Lack of sleep has been repeatedly linked to a higher body mass index (BMI) and weight gain (2).

People's sleep requirements vary, but, in general, research has observed changes in weight when people sleep less than seven hours per night (3).

A major review found that short sleep duration increased the likelihood of obesity by 89% in children and 55% in adults (3).

Another study followed about 60,000 non-obese nurses for 16 years. At the end of the study, nurses who slept five or less hours per night were 15% more likely to be obese than those who slept at least seven hours per night (4).

Although these studies were all observational, weight gain has also been observed in experimental studies of sleep deprivation.

One study allowed 16 adults only five hours of sleep per night for five nights. They obtained an average of 1.8 pounds (0.82 kg) in the short course of this study (5).

In addition, many sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, are worsened by weight gain.

It is a vicious circle from which it can be difficult to escape. Sleeping badly can cause weight gain, which can cause the quality of sleep to decrease even more (6).

Summary: Studies have found that lack of sleep is associated with weight gain and a greater likelihood of obesity in adults and children.

2. Bad sleep can increase your appetite

Many studies have found that people who are sleep deprived report that they have an increased appetite (7, 8).

This is probably caused by the impact of sleep on two important hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin.

Ghrelin is a hormone released in the stomach that signals hunger in the brain. The levels are high before eating, which is when the stomach is empty, and low after eating (7).

Leptin is a hormone released by fat cells. Suppresses hunger and signals fullness in the brain (7).

When you do not sleep enough, the body produces more ghrelin and less leptin, which leaves you hungry and increases your appetite.

A study of more than 1,000 people found that those who slept for short periods had ghrelin levels 14.9% higher and leptin levels 15.5% lower than those who slept enough.

Short sleepers also had a higher BMI (7).

Also, the hormone cortisol is higher when you do not get enough sleep. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can also increase appetite (2).

Summary: Sleeping badly can increase appetite, probably due to its effect on hormones that indicate hunger and fullness.

3. Sleeping helps you fight cravings and make healthy choices

Lack of sleep actually alters the way your brain works. This can make it harder to make healthy choices and resist tempting foods (9).

Sleep deprivation will actually decrease activity in the frontal lobe of the brain. The frontal lobe is responsible for decision making and self-control (10).

In addition, it seems that the reward centers of the brain are more stimulated by food when you are deprived of sleep (9).

Therefore, after a poor night's sleep, not only is that bowl of ice cream more rewarding, but it is also more difficult to practice self-control.

In addition, research has found that lack of sleep can increase your affinity for foods that are high in calories, carbohydrates and fats (11, 12).

A study of 12 men observed the effects of lack of sleep on food intake.

When participants were only allowed to sleep four hours, their calorie intake increased by 22% and their fat consumption almost doubled, compared to when they were allowed to sleep eight hours (13).

Summary: Sleeping badly can decrease your self-control and decision-making skills and can increase the brain's reaction to food. Sleeping badly has also been linked to an increased intake of foods rich in calories, fats and carbohydrates.

4. Lack of sleep can increase your calorie intake

People who sleep poorly tend to consume more calories.

A study of 12 men found that when participants were allowed to sleep only four hours, they ate an average of 559 more calories the next day, compared to when they were allowed eight hours (13).

This increase in calories may be due to increased appetite and poor food selection, as mentioned above.

However, it may also be due simply to an increase in the time spent being awake and available to eat. This is especially true when waking time is spent inactive, such as watching television (14).

In addition, some studies on sleep deprivation have found that a large part of excess calories was consumed as snacks after dinner (5).

Sleeping badly can also increase your calorie intake by affecting your ability to control the size of your portions.

This was demonstrated in a study of 16 men. Participants were allowed to sleep eight hours or were kept awake all night. In the morning, they completed a computer-based task where they had to select portions sizes of different foods.

Those who remained awake all night selected larger portions, reported that they had increased hunger and had higher levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin (15).

Summary: Sleeping badly can increase your calorie intake by increasing nighttime snacks, portion sizes and time available to eat.

5. Lack of sleep can decrease your resting metabolism

Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the amount of calories your body burns when you are fully rested. It is affected by age, weight, height, sex and muscle mass.

Research indicates that lack of sleep can decrease your RMR (16).

In one study, 15 men stayed awake for 24 hours. Later, her RMR was 5% lower than after a normal night's rest, and her metabolic rate after eating was 20% lower (17).

In contrast, some studies have not found changes in metabolism with loss of sleep. Therefore, more research is needed to determine if and how sleep loss reduces metabolism (18).

It also seems that lack of sleep can cause muscle loss. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat, so when muscle is lost, resting metabolic rates decrease.

One study put 10 overweight adults on a 14-day diet with moderate calorie restriction. Participants were allowed to sleep 8.5 or 5.5 hours.

Both groups lost weight of both fat and muscle, but those who received only 5.5 hours of sleep lost less weight from fat and more from muscle (19).

A loss of 22 pound (10 kg) muscle mass could reduce your RMR by approximately 100 calories per day (20).

Summary: Lack of sleep can decrease your resting metabolic rate (RMR), although the results are mixed. A contributing factor seems to be that lack of sleep can cause muscle loss.

6. Sleep can improve physical activity

Lack of sleep can cause fatigue during the day, which makes it less likely and less motivated to exercise.

In addition, you are more likely to get tired earlier during physical activity (21).

A study of 15 men found that when participants were deprived of sleep, the amount and intensity of their physical activity decreased (22).

The good news is that sleeping more can help improve your athletic performance.

In one study, college basketball players were asked to spend 10 hours in bed each night for five to seven weeks. They became faster, their reaction times improved, their accuracy increased and their fatigue levels decreased (23).

Summary: Lack of sleep can decrease the motivation, amount and intensity of your exercise. Sleeping more can even help improve performance.

7. Helps prevent insulin resistance.

Sleeping badly can cause cells to become resistant to insulin (24, 25).

Insulin is a hormone that moves sugar from the bloodstream to the cells in your body to use as energy.

When the cells become resistant to insulin, more sugar remains in the bloodstream and the body produces more insulin to compensate.

The excess insulin makes you more hungry and tells the body to store more calories as fat. Insulin resistance is a precursor to both type 2 diabetes and weight gain.

In one study, 11 men were only allowed to sleep four hours for six nights. After this, their bodies' ability to lower blood sugar levels decreased by 40% (25).

This suggests that only a few nights of poor sleep can cause cells to become resistant to insulin.

Summary: A few days of poor sleep can cause resistance to insulin which is a precursor to weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

The bottom line

In addition to eating well and exercising, getting a good night's sleep is an important part of weight maintenance.

Lack of sleep dramatically alters the way the body responds to food.

For starters, your appetite increases and you are less likely to resist temptations and control portions.

To make matters worse, it can become a vicious circle. The less you sleep, the more weight you gain and the more weight you gain, the harder it is to sleep.

On the other hand, establishing healthy sleep habits can help your body maintain a healthy weight.

Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/sleep-and-weight-loss


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