Are you trying to lose weight? Lean out? Do you find your weight is increasing even though your caloric intake is not and you’re still exercising? If you answered “Yes” to any of the above, it may not be your diet or your exercise, it could very well be you’re not getting enough sleep.
The suggested amount of sleep for adults is 7-8 hours a night. However, most adults get 6 or less. Why is sleep important when it comes to weight? One factor is that while sleeping our body is resting and rebuilding. Two hormones that can have a negative impact on our weight if they are “off” are Ghrelin and Leptin. When you think “Go” think Ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells us to “go ahead and eat”. Leptin is the hormone that tells us we’ve had enough. When we don’t get enough sleep we don’t get enough Leptin and we get more Ghrelin. More Ghrelin means our bodies are wanting more food and not having a sufficient amount of Leptin, our bodies are not having the hormone to tell us to stop.
Lack of sleep can also lead to less energy which in turn means you may not get your workout in or if you do you may not exercise as intensely. If we’re not pushing ourselves as hard, we won’t burn as much and if we continue to eat the same amount, but burn less we will gain weight.
Sleep deprivation can lead to injury. If you’re not able to focus, because you are too tired, you’re more apt to get injured. Injury can lead to reducing or eliminating exercise. No exercise=weight gain. Injury can also lead to depression. Depression can lead to poor dietary and/or exercise choices.
So, how do I get more sleep? I have kids, work, school, all of these, or whatever it may be. Some tips to help you get more sleep and more out of your sleep are:
1. Go to bed 15-30 minutes earlier than normal. Start small. Even if you lay in bed and can’t fall asleep right away, get in the habit of going to bad earlier.
2. Get off the electronics at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour before going to bed. This is especially true when it comes to emails and social media. Once we are logged into one of these we may end up getting a message we’re not expecting which leads to us doing more work, being stressed, angry, sad, or even really happy and now we can’t focus on getting to sleep.
3. Read a productive book. This may be a book that makes you happy, is a self-improvement book, a book on a topic you want to educate yourself on, etc… Reading something that creates positive outlook can help you to have a restful night of sleep.
4. Don’t eat too close to going to bed. Especially junk food. Trying to sleep after eating something high in sugar is normally more challenging for people rather than eating something that lower in sugar and healthier. Eating ice cream, cookies, pastries, etc… can spike insulin levels which can not only lead to great fat gain it can also force our bodies to work harder to use the energy quickly and make it tough to get some shut eye. Eating something along the lines of cottage cheese, having a protein shake or something light can help the body rebuild muscle tissue and keep us full, but not too much. Try to not eat anything within in 45-60 minutes of going to bed. For some, it may need to be an even bigger gap.