(10 minute listening/ read)
Do you want to lose weight? In this episode, you will learn how sleep quality is connected to weight loss and can help you to burn fat. Intermittent fasting, sleep, and exercise are all useful methods for losing weight and balancing your hunger control hormones ghrelin and leptin, as well as for good levels of growth factor— all of which are important for optimal weight loss.
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How does sleep affect weight loss?
Insufficient sleep is associated with obesity. The connection between weight control and sleep has been shown in a large number of studies. In this episode, you will learn about why poor sleep risks putting you in a vicious cycle of overeating and weight gain, and how you can stop this from happening.
We all want to stay lean and healthy, and to be honest, the knowledge to do so is readily available online.
Why sleep helps you lose weight
You may wonder why so many of us are overweight or obese. Food is everywhere, and we all live as kings from past times. The constant availability and addictive aspect of food often lead to overeating and weight gain. So, you may ask yourself how this overconsumption of food is so common in a time when information about how to stay healthy is just a few clicks away.
There are many factors behind overeating, and this is a very serious issue for our modern society, as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease all are connected to your eating habits.
When starting a weight loss program, lowered caloric intake is the natural place to start. It has been shown that your daily energy intake has the most significant impact on gaining or losing weight, something I am sure you are familiar with. In addition to having control over the amount of food you eat, your meals’ timing is also important. As it turns out, late-night eating has been connected to decreased sleep quality and a lower rate of weight loss, as well as the risk for more serious health implications as heart disease. It is likely that this is caused by an active digestion system that disturbs the body’s ability to go into a state of optimal recovery and rest.
Sleep and hunger control
Short sleep duration has been shown to lead to higher BMI and obesity among adults and children, where studies show that chronic sleep loss affects hunger control, glucose regulation, and insulin resistance. As little as one missed hour of sleep has been shown to decrease weight loss when under a restricted caloric diet, with the main appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin being altered, resulting in overeating and decreased energy expenditure. Leptin regulates energy balance by inhibiting hunger, and in a study with 1024 volunteers, 15.5% lower leptin levels were seen when comparing five versus eight hours of sleep. In the same comparison, 14.9% higher levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin was observed. Elevated levels of this hormone give your body a signal to increase food intake. In addition to this control mechanism, sleep deprivation alone is believed to lead to higher caloric intake in your body’s effort to sustain additional wakefulness in a sleep-deprived state.
These findings mean that a poor night of sleep sets you up for excessive and less controlled eating habits, working against your goal to lose weight. So, for the optimal chance to stay lean and healthy, you should put some effort into getting the best sleep possible.
Growth hormone and sleep
Among the hormones vital to keep in balance for maximal weight loss, growth hormone (GH) has an important role in your energy metabolism and ability to burn fat. In a study measuring the effect of sleep restriction, the secretion of growth hormone was significantly lowered. This means that good sleep quality is essential for having your best levels of growth hormone to support maximal fat burning. Besides healthy sleep, growth hormone is potently stimulated by fasting as well as aerobic and resistance exercise. As we all know, intermittent fasting has become trendy in the last couple of years. It has become popular as it can be easily incorporated into your routine without the challenges that come with one or several days of fasting. Intermittent fasting can help you to lose weight, improving your metabolic health, and increasing the secretion of growth hormone. This makes intermittent fasting yet another great tool to help you lose more weight, in addition to your daily exercise and optimized sleep.
How to sleep better to lose weight
For the best sleep and maximal fat loss, make sure to restrict eating three to four hours before bedtime. This will allow the body to focus on recovery and fat burning while being in a fasted state the whole night. This also has other benefits, as studies have demonstrated that the brain washes away toxins by circulating fluid during sleep, and it is reasonable to believe that digestion in rest mode supports this process.
As you have learned in this episode, healthy sleep can have a powerful effect on your weight loss journey, with a role in hunger control and hormone balance vital for lean body mass. With all these facts, it is easy to see that sleep should be one of the first points in any weight loss program, as a proven addition to proper exercise and nutrition.
There are several good ways to start sleeping better. The first thing I always recommend is to set a fixed time of going to bed and waking up every day. A goal should be to be in bed within a one-hour window each night, as this will ensure that your body is ready to rest fully during the night. The bedroom should allow for a night of peaceful sleep with complete darkness, silence, and the right temperature. This means aiming for a cold 60- and 67-degrees Fahrenheit and a room so dark that you cannot see your hand in front of you after switching off the lights. A powerful tool to be used just before bedtime is blue light blocking glasses made for sleep improvement. If you like to be active all the way into the late hours, this type of glasses helps you to filter out the melatonin-disturbing light emitted from your smartphone, TV, and computer screen.
To start your steps to better sleep today, read our 8-point sleep guide. In this guide, you will find some of the best ways to improve your sleep, and it is easy and totally free. The guide contains all the sleep tips from this episode for your reference, and it can be shared with others.
I hope you got something valuable from this article— giving you a quick overview of the benefits and the connection between sleep and weight loss. Let us educate others about the dangers of blue light and the easy way to manage our daily light consumption.
Click on the share links below to help others improve their sleep naturally.
Happy Deep Sleep,
Oskar Eriksson, M.Sc.
The Sleep Engineer™