Updated at: 11-03-2022 - By: Jane Brody

It’s hard to lose weight, and it’s much harder to keep it off once you do. It is still unclear how sleep and body weight are linked, but some possible correlations have arisen that underscore the health risks of sleep deficiency and the potential weight-loss advantages of getting enough sleep.

The Connection Between Sleep and Weight

The quantity of time Americans spend sleeping and the quality of that sleep have both declined dramatically over the last several decades. The average BMI of Americans rose throughout the same period, indicating a rise in obesity rates and a rise in body mass index (BMI).

Many studies began to postulate about possible links between weight and sleep as a result of these developments. Sleep deprivation and poor quality have been linked to an increased risk of obesity and other long-term health problems, according to numerous research.

Research shows a positive association between good sleep and a healthy weight despite ongoing disputes in the medical profession over the exact nature of this relationship.

There’s still a lot to learn about the complex relationship between sleep and body weight. It is hoped that a greater knowledge of the relationship between weight and sleep would lead to a reduction in obesity as well as better ways of weight loss.

Can Lack of Sleep Increase Appetite?

How sleep impacts hunger is a prevalent theory concerning the link between weight and sleep. Neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that allow neurons (nerve cells) to connect with one another, influence hunger, not stomach grumbling.

Ghrelin and leptin, two neurotransmitters that are known to be crucial in appetite, are regarded to be at the center of this theory. Hunger is fueled by ghrelin, and satiety is achieved by leptin. When the body’s levels of these neurotransmitters rise and fall during the day, it signals that it needs calories.

These neurotransmitters may be affected by a lack of sleep. Males who slept for four hours less per night had higher levels of ghrelin and lower levels of leptin than men who slept for ten hours per night. People who are sleep-deprived may experience an increase in hunger and a decrease in sensations of fullness as a result of ghrelin and leptin imbalance.

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Several studies have also found that sleep loss alters one’s dietary preferences. People who are sleep-deprived are more likely to choose high-calorie and high-carbohydrate items.

In addition to orexin, a neurotransmitter targeted by several sleep aids, there are other possibilities on the link between sleep and increased hunger.

Many scientists believe that there is a complex interaction between sleep disorders and the dysregulation of neurotransmitters, and more research is needed to fully understand this relationship on a neurobiological level.

Does Sleep Increase Metabolism?

The chemical process by which the body transforms the food and beverages we consume into the energy we need to live is known as metabolism. Everything we do, from breathing to exercising, is part of our metabolic process. Exercise, on the other hand, can temporarily boost metabolism; however, sleep does not. It is estimated that during sleep, metabolism slows by roughly 15% and reaches its lowest level in the morning.

Indeed, a number of studies have demonstrated that sleep deprivation (whether due to self-induction, insomnia, untreated snoring, or other sleep disorders) frequently results in metabolic dysregulation. Oxidative stress, glucose intolerance (a precursor to diabetes), and insulin resistance are all exacerbated when people don’t get enough quality sleep each night. When people spend more time awake and sleepless, their circadian rhythms are disrupted, which can lead to weight gain.

How is Sleep Related to Physical Activity?

Having decreased energy for physical activities might be a side effect of sleep deprivation. Sports and exercise can be less safe when you’re fatigued, especially if you’re doing things like weightlifting or needing to maintain your balance. Maintaining weight loss and a healthy lifestyle requires regular exercise, even if studies are still deciphering this link.

Regular exercise, especially in the presence of natural light, can improve one’s quality of sleep. Even a short stroll during the day can aid with sleep, but a higher level of physical activity can have a far greater impact on sleep quality. Improved daytime attention and reduced daytime sleepiness can be achieved by engaging in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week.

Sleep and Obesity

The association between sleep deprivation and obesity in children and adolescents is widely documented, but the explanation for this link is currently under investigation. Many of the metabolic abnormalities outlined previously in this article occur when youngsters don’t get enough sleep. This can include skipping breakfast in the mornings and an increase in the consumption of sugary and starchy foods.

Adults’ research is less conclusive than that of children. People who sleep less than six hours a night are more likely to be categorized as fat, according to a major review of previous studies, although it is difficult for these studies to identify cause and effect. An individual’s chance of getting sleep-related health issues such as sleep apnea and depression increases just by being obese in the first place. In this research, it’s not obvious if the participants’ obesity is causing them to get less sleep, or if the participants’ obesity is causing them to get less sleep. While further research is needed to confirm this link, doctors recommend enhancing sleep quality as part of the treatment of obesity in adults.”

Sleep During Weight Loss

A healthy weight loss plan necessitates a good night’s sleep as a key component. Most importantly, a lack of sleep when dieting has been shown to impede weight loss and increase the likelihood of overeating.

Tips for Quality Sleep During Weight Loss

There are a number of techniques to improve your sleep. When you’re attempting to reduce weight, here are some research-based strategies for improved sleep:

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule: After a week of late nights, your metabolism may vary and your insulin sensitivity may decrease, making it easier for your blood sugar levels to rise.
  • Sleep in a dark room: An increased risk of weight gain and obesity is connected with exposure to artificial light when sleeping (such as a television or bedside lamp).
  • Don’t eat right before bed: Weight loss efforts may be hampered if you eat late at night.
  • Reduce Stress: Poor sleep and weight gain can be caused by chronic stress in a variety of ways, including eating as a means to deal with negative feelings.
  • Be an Early Bird: It is possible that those who stay up late are more likely to overindulge in food and acquire weight as a result. When compared to night owls, early risers have a better chance of maintaining weight loss.

Maintaining a Healthy Relationship With Your Body

With the help of your doctor, you can make an informed decision about whether or not to adjust your weight. Don’t believe everything you read about health and weight loss on the internet. All weight reduction isn’t appropriate for everyone, nor does all weight loss equal wellness. It’s important to keep in mind that good health is a lifetime endeavor that requires not only good behaviors but also a healthy relationship with one’s own body. The National Institutes of Health has a great guide to finding a healthy weight loss program if you’re interested in losing weight.

6 Ways Sleep May Help You Lose Weight

When it comes to weight loss, getting enough sleep is just as crucial as what you eat and how much you exercise.

As a result, an increasing number of people aren’t getting enough rest.

More than one-third of American people sleep less than seven hours a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Short sleep is defined as having a nightly sleep duration of 6 hours or less.

Intriguingly, growing evidence suggests that sleep may be the linchpin for many people who are unable to shed excess pounds.

A lack of sleep can lead to weight gain for six reasons.

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1. May help you avoid weight gain associated with short sleep

A higher body mass index (BMI) and weight increase have been linked to insufficient sleep, which is typically defined as sleeping for less than 6–7 hours each night, on numerous occasions.

Adults who slept less than 7 hours per night had a 41% higher risk of obesity, according to a review of 20 research involving 300,000 participants. In contrast, those who slept longer (7–9 hours a night) were not associated with fat.

Having a smaller waist circumference is a good indicator of the growth of belly fat, according to another study.

Similar results have been obtained in other investigations.

The same kinds of connections have been discovered in research on children and teenagers as well.

Short sleep duration was linked to an increased risk of obesity in a recent evaluation of 33 observational and intervention trials. It’s interesting to note that BMI ratings were reduced by one hour for every additional hour of sleep.

Short sleep duration was found to be associated with an increased risk of obesity in these different age groups in another evaluation of multiple observational studies:

  • Infancy: 40% boost in danger
  • Early childhood:  57% increase in danger
  • Middle childhood: 123% greater opportunity for harm
  • Adolescence: 30% a higher potential for harm

Short sleep duration has been linked to an increased risk of childhood obesity by 30–45 percent, according to large research.

Obesity can develop for a variety of reasons, one of which is that sleep deprivation increases a person’s desire for high-fat and high-sugar foods.

Ghrelin (the hormone that makes you feel hungry) and leptin (the hormone that makes you feel full) may play a role in this.

Hunger is signaled in the brain by a hormone called ghrelin, which is secreted by the stomach. Levels rise before eating and fall afterward because the stomach is full. As a hormone, leptin is produced when fat cells release it. In the brain, it acts as a hunger suppressant and a signal of fullness.

As a result of poor sleep, the sympathetic nervous system is negatively affected, resulting in a rise in cortisol, a stress hormone.

Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) may also be suppressed by it (IGF-1). Increased fat storage is associated with IGF-1.

Sleep apnea, for example, may develop worse when a person gains weight. As a result, bad sleep can lead to weight increase, which in turn can contribute to poor sleep.

2. May help moderate your appetite

Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in caloric intake and hunger, thus getting enough sleep may help prevent these side effects.

Studies show that persons who are sleep deprived have an increased desire to consume more calories per day and an increased daily caloric intake.

People who are sleep deprived consume an average of 385 extra calories per day, with fat accounting for a higher percentage of those calories than typical.

Another study found that sleep deprivation increased appetite, food cravings, portion sizes, chocolate, and fat intakes.

Sleep’s impact on the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin is likely a contributing factor in the rise in caloric intake.

Because sleep deprivation causes an increase in hunger and appetite, the body produces more ghrelin and less leptin.

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3. May help you make better food choices

Being well-rested could help you make better dietary choices.

A lack of sleep affects the way your brain functions and can influence your decision-making. This could make it more difficult to stick to a healthy diet and avoid giving in to the urge to eat unhealthy foods.

The reward areas of the brain appear to be more activated by food when you are sleep-deprived.

It has been shown that sleep-deprived people exhibit stronger brain reward responses when they are shown images of high-calorie food. Intriguingly, they also had a higher tendency to overspend on food than those who got enough sleep.

As a result, after a night of sleep deprivation, the reward of a bowl of ice cream is greater, and you’ll likely have a more difficult time controlling yourself.

Another study found that people’s enhanced sensitivity to the scent of high-calorie foodstuffs was linked to increased consumption when they were sleep-deprived.

As a result of a lack of sleep, people may eat extra calories, sweets, and fat in order to compensate for their lack of energy.

4. Sleeping early can prevent late-night snacking

The late-night munching that comes with staying up late may be avoided if you go to bed sooner.

Pushing your bedtime later implies that you’ll be able to eat more frequently, especially if it’s been a long time since your last meal.

In other words, if your dinner hour is 6 p.m. and your bedtime is 1:00 a.m., you’re probably going to be starving between the two.

Because of sleep loss, you may be more inclined to eat foods that are lower in nutritional value. As a result of a lack of sleep, hunger, and cravings for high-calorie, fatty foods can develop.

Weight gain increased BMI, and impaired fat oxidation are all linked to eating late at night, making it more difficult to shed pounds.

In addition, eating heavy meals close to bedtime, especially if you’re sleep-deprived, might reduce the quality of your sleep and exacerbate it. Food intake before night may be restricted for those who suffer from acid reflux, indigestion, or insomnia.

Try to eat no more than two to three hours before going to bed. So, if you’re feeling peckish, reach for something high in protein, such as a small serving of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.

5. Potential benefits for your metabolism

You may be able to avoid a drop in metabolism that occurs when you don’t get enough sleep. Getting adequate sleep may assist.

The number of calories your body burns at rest is known as your resting metabolic rate (RMR). There are numerous influences on this, including:

  • age
  • weight
  • height
  • sex
  • muscle mass

The amount of sleep you get may also have an impact on your resting metabolic rate.

The effects of sleep limitation on RMR were examined in a study including 47 people. An initial two-night period of regular sleep was followed by five days of sleep restriction, with each night’s sleep being restricted by four hours.

As a last resort, they had one night of “catch-up” sleep in which they slept for 12 hours straight.

Participants’ RMR declined significantly from the start of the study to the end of the five days of sleep deprivation. After the “catch up” sleep, their RMR reverted to normal. The RMR of the people in the control group had not changed significantly.

Sleep deprivation may lower RMR, however, catching up on a night’s rest may help you get your RMR back up to normal.

In contrast, other studies have found no changes in metabolism with sleep loss and have suggested that energy consumption may potentially increase because you’re awake for a longer period of time with less sleep.

As a result, further research is needed to identify if and how sleep loss affects metabolism.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to a reduction in fat oxidation, the process by which fat cells are broken down and converted to energy for the body.

According to a recent study, sleep deprivation reduced basal fat oxidation in participants of all ages, gender, and body mass index (BMI). RMR, on the other hand, was unaffected.

As a result, muscle synthesis appears to be reduced, which may reduce RMR.

A single night of insufficient sleep reduced muscle synthesis by 18% and plasma testosterone by 24%, according to small research. A 21% increase in cortisol was also seen. Muscle deterioration is caused by a combination of these factors.

There were significant limitations to this study due to its limited sample size and short duration of only one day. Sleep restriction does not impair muscle repair and growth in other research. This necessitates longer and larger investigations.

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6. Sleep can enhance physical activity

Slumber and exercise are intertwined in a mutually beneficial interaction. It has been shown that sleep deprivation lowers physical activity levels, which in turn lowers sleep quality.

The amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep can be reduced by regular exercise, according to numerous research.

In addition, being sleep-deprived can lead to weariness during the day, reducing your desire to work out and increasing your likelihood of being inactive.

Sleep deprivation can lead to lower calorie expenditure throughout the day than would be the case with a full night’s sleep. This can make it more difficult to lose weight by creating a calorie deficit.

A lack of sleep can also impair your physical performance by reducing your ability to

  • speed of a person’s reaction.
  • The ability to use fine motor control.
  • strength and stamina in the muscles.
  • The ability to solve problems

The risk of injury and delay in recovery may also rise.

Maintaining a healthy level of physical activity requires adequate sleep.

The bottom line

Not getting enough sleep might have a negative impact on your weight loss efforts.

Poor food choices, increased appetite, and calorie consumption decreased physical activity, and weight gain is all linked to a lack of sleep.

Consider changing your sleep habits if your weight loss efforts aren’t working. However, most adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.

A good night’s sleep can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your weight loss efforts.

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