Need a Weight Loss Boost? Get Some Sleep!
We’ve been taught that our diet controls our weight. There is truth to this concept. However, it doesn’t end there. When trying to lose weight or manage weight, we’ve got to consider the factors that may control our diet, our fat cells, our very motivation. According to numerous studies, sleep links to all of these things.
To think that you must only “eat less and move more” to lose weight could be limiting. Weight loss is not as simple as we have been led to believe. This is one of the many reasons why our Houston office provides medical weight loss services. When it comes to eating less and moving more, we’ve got to have the drive. Sometimes, we just can’t seem to get ourselves into gear. The reason, according to research, could be because we’re doing everything except prioritizing sleep.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 35% of us are deprived of sleep. Interestingly, the obesity rate is nearly the same. We don’t have to think too hard to connect the dots. According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, sleeping less than seven hours a night can not only set up roadblocks to weight loss but can also undo all the hard work one puts into their diet and exercise habits.
In the published study, participants were placed on different sleep schedules. Those who slept adequately lost more significant amounts of fat. When their sleep schedule was changed, they then lost half the amount of fat they had lost when on a satisfactory sleep schedule. No dietary changes were made throughout the study. In addition to stagnating in their weight loss, participants who were sleep-deprived reported feeling less satisfied after meals and less motivated to exercise.
It may come as no surprise that sleep deprivation can cause you to eat more and move less, the opposite of what it takes to lose weight. However, there is more to this sleep-weight story. Keep in mind that, when you aren’t sleeping enough, you are much more likely to experience:
- “Metabolic grogginess.” This term was invented by researchers at the University of Chicago who found that just four nights of poor sleep decreased insulin sensitivity more than 30 percent. Insulin sensitivity describes the optimal elimination of fatty acids and lipids. When we become insulin resistant, we store more fat.
- Food cravings. Sleeping less than the optimal number of hours each night depresses leptin and stimulates ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that is produced in fat cells, making us feel full. Insufficient leptin increases the sensation of hunger. Ghrelin is the hormone that stimulates hunger. This hormone also decreases caloric burn (metabolism). Additionally, the less we sleep, the more cortisol we produce. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can activate the reward centers in the brain, making us crave food.
- Lack of control. A study found in Nature Communications reported that the frontal lobe of the brain, the area in control of complex decision-making, becomes impaired after just one night of poor sleep. This is a significant finding for dieters who struggle with inner conversations that go like this: “I will only eat one bite of that cake . . . then again, I could just work this off tomorrow.” Essentially, sleep deprivation is not unlike being a little tipsy. Mental clarity and self-discipline can go right out the window.
Weight loss can be somewhat complex but it doesn’t have to be impossible. We’re here to help you. After you get a good night’s sleep tonight, schedule a visit in our Houston office to learn more about medical weight loss and how it can help you control cravings and hunger.