It's always been thought that if you're sleep-deprived, you would lose weight. That makes sense since sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system and make you susceptible to health problems that cause weight loss. For some people, however, the opposite is true.
Poor Eating Habits
It has been found that lack of sleep can also cause significant weight gain.
Imagine this scenario:
When you're feeling sleepy at work, what's the usual thing you do to perk you up? You drink one or several cups of coffee and take in some sugary snacks like doughnuts for example for a quick boost of energy so you can survive the rest of the day.
On your way home, you're feeling too tired so you skip the gym or dance class. You also pick up fat calorie-loaded takeout because you don't have the energy or time to cook either.
See how sleep deprivation works to ruin your figure and causes you to gain excess weight?
The cycle starts innocently. At first, you wouldn't notice that you turn to comfort foods when you're running low in energy due to sleep deprivation. Or you do notice but you just don't realize that the cycle and the habits can get vicious and harmful. The short-term result is that you're able to combat sleepiness and work productively for the rest of the day. The long-term result of poor dietary choices and insufficient physical activity is that you sabotage of your health.
Sleep deprivation doesn't only sneak pounds into your weight this way. It also slows down your metabolism. According to the Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Arizona, lack of good quality sleep will hinder your metabolism from functioning properly. Slower metabolism equals less efficient burning of calories equals weight gain.
Another way to explain the connection between the two is by understanding the hormones that are key to the body's ability to lose weight. Ghrelin and leptin are the hormones. Ghrelin is the hormone that signals your body that it's time to eat. Leptin, meanwhile, signals your body that your stomach is already full and that you should already put down your spoon and fork. When you're deprived of sleep, the body produces more ghrelin and less leptin. This obviously leads to weight gain.
What's a Good Sleeping Habit, Then?
Understanding the sleep-weight gain connection is important if you want to straight things out for your health. On the average, a person needs to have 7.5 hours of good quality sleep every night. If this is your normal routine, adding an extra half hour won't make you lose weight. But interestingly enough, if you only sleep for about five hours or less and you make a move to sleep more by adding two hours to your nightly bedtime schedule, you can see improvement in your weight.
So how can you make things better for you?
- First, look at your sleep in terms of quality versus quantity. The average 7.5 hours of sleep should be of good quality. Even long hours of dozing off that are of poor quality affects your body the same way that sleep deprivation does.
- Improve both your sleeping hours and sleeping quality. For one, avoid intake of caffeine in the afternoon up to nighttime. It's also best to exercise as this can improve the quality of sleep. Have a no-electronics curfew an hour before you sleep so your mind is well rested before you hit the bed. Finally, avoid having meals close to bedtime.