Getting plenty of sleep is important for our health and well being yet so few of us make it a priority. This means that many of us are unaware of what being truly rested feels like.
Our sleep is also impacted by certain stimulants such as coffee and energy drinks. Alarm clocks, external lights especially those coming from electronic devices interfere with our circadian rhythm (natural sleep/wake cycle).
Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. It is important to assess not only where you fall on the ‘sleep needs spectrum’ but also to examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep such as work schedule and stress.
For many, sleep plays an important factor to those of us trying to lose weight and here are some reasons why?
Stops Late Night Snacking
The longer you are awake the more likely you are to consume more calories you do not need which can cause you to gain up to 2 pounds per week.
If you do not go to sleep when you feel tired, then your natural bodies response is to crave sugary foods to give you that boost. Unfortunately, our brain does not know how to acknowledge when we have had enough sugar and more so when we are tired. Therefore, in general it is easy for 1 sugary late-night snack to turn to 2 or 3 in a short period of time.
Helps Burn More Calories
In a study those people getting plenty of sleep generally burn more calories whilst resting than those who suffer with sleep by an average of 5%. They also burned 20% more calories after a meal versus sleep deprived people.
The study which looked at people on a weight loss program found that people sleeping between 6 to 8 hours were more likely to be successful in losing weight. The loss of weight was also associated with lower stress levels. It has been found that chronic stress levels can trigger hormonal reactions that result in an increase in energy dense foods so that eating becomes a coping mechanism and palatable food becomes addictive.
Such foods include
Cakes & Biscuits
Substituting these foods for those that are called high energy would make a big difference.
Nuts & Seeds
Organic Peanut Butter
Lack Of Sleep Linked To Obesity
Professor Cappuccio of Warwick University UK has been investigation sleep patterns with interesting results. His early results have shown that sleep deprivation can almost double your risk of obesity for both children and adults. The research reviewed current evidence in over 28,000 children and 15,000 adults.
The research suggested that over time the lack of sleep resulted in an increase of body mass index and waist circumference leading to obesity.
There was a direct correlation with a lack of sleep to an increased appetite. Ghrelin is a hormone commonly know as a ‘hunger hormone’ and was shown to increase with a lack of sleep. Ghrelin creates less leptin which helps to suppress our appetite.
Link to view press release https://warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/ne100000021440
Sleep Lowers Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Type 2 Diabetes is a serious condition where the insulin your pancreas makes does not work properly or does not work enough.
Insulin is important to our body as it allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our body. When you have Type 2 Diabetes your body still produces glucose from breaking down carbohydrates in food and drink. However, the pancreas keeps producing insulin but because this cannot be used properly blood glucose levels keep rising.
Over a long period of time, these raised increases of high sugar levels, can result in complications with heart, eyes, feet and kidneys.
Type 2 Diabetes can be reversed and certainly managed. Some people can do this through healthy eating, weight loss and exercise and others through medication.
Poor sleeping habits have been found to increase the risk of Type II Diabetes in just 6 days, according to studies carried out on healthy young men restricted to just 4 hours sleep.
The reduction of insulin sensitivity was reversed after just 1-week increased duration of sleep.
Boosts Fat Loss
In a recent study from the University of Chicago compared the weight loss results from a group who got 8.5 hours sleep versus a group sleeping 5.5 hours. Both groups ate 1450 calories per day and lost 6.5 lbs on average.
However, the interesting fact was the weight loss of those who slept longer burned 3.25 lbs of body fat as opposed to 1.62 lbs in the sleep deprived group.
Likely To Shop Healthier
Another study in the journal ‘Obesity’ saw sleep deprived men buy 1300 calories more than well rested men after both groups ate a good breakfast.
The problem with a lack of sleep means that we have difficulty making the right choices as our brains become foggy and we feel tired and fatigued. People therefore are more prone to buying processed and ready-made meals as they do not have the time to eat healthier. This unhealthy eating habit leads to an increase in the wrong calories and this is where the weight gain starts.
Greater Portion Size Control
In a Swedish study well rested and sleep deprived participants were asked to complete a computerised ‘ideal portion size’ task where they could manipulate their portion serving on the screen. Their findings showed that the sleep deprived group added an average of 35 calories in snacks to their plates
We have all experienced differences with concentration levels when our brains are tired. Researchers carried out brain scans on people who reported daytime sleepiness and measured brain activity in response to high calorie food. Basically, it was found that there were lowered inhibitions which led to a tendency to overeat when tired. This was due to the lack of activation in the part of the brain involved with inhibition and behavior control in our prefrontal cortex.
Good Sleep Practices
Stick to a sleep schedule even on weekends. Our body enjoys routine and this is no different with our sleeping pattern. The most important part of the schedule is the waking up, as your body will prepare itself for the daily activities ahead.
Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual such as having a bath. Not only does a bath have a calming effect on us but it is also known to reduce our body temperature which allows us to sleep more readily.
Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound, and light. A dark room is good for sleeping however waking up to natural light is equally as important. Allowing your body to wake up naturally is more conducive to a good waking practice.
Ideal bedroom temperature is conducive for a good night’s sleep. Having a cooler room is likened to your core body temperature drop into the evening. A hotter room will usually mean that you are likely to woken up during your sleep due to overheating.
A quiet room can be good for some to relax but others might prefer natural sounds depending on what you are used too.
Sleeping on a comfortable mattress and pillow is important to ensure that you are getting a good night’s sleep. Not only should you be cleaning your bed linen regularly but also keeping your mattress and pillows clean.
Some statistics for you:
Breathing & Perspiration – Half a litre of water lost at night per adult.
Dead skin – Loss of approximately half a kilo per year per adult.
It is therefore important to ensure that you change your mattress every ten years hence keeping your environment clean and tidy and you healthier.
A clutter free bedroom where you have no electronics makes you feel that your bedroom is purely the place you go to relax. If your room is tidy, then your mind is likely to be clutter free and more relaxed for sleep.
Exercise daily as this helps us with a better sleeping routine. Those people who exercise regularly generally sleep deeper.
Beware of hidden sleep stealers such as caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol. These are known as stimulants for a reason and your body will feel less likely to relax as it was to stay awake and alert.
Sleep is so important in our lives for our health and well being. Allow yourself the time to look after “you” the best way that you can, and sleep is the easy part of that.
Sleep affects us mentally as well as physically and sometimes we do not realise. Being tired is a bi product of both.
I know for certain that when I sleep well my day is so much better and I perform my daily activities with so much more energy.
Why sleep is important for weight loss, has now had so much research mainly due to the chronic disease this associates with especially diabetes and heart disease. The association that our brain has with a lack of sleep plays an important part in how we function daily.
Just imagine how you felt when you had been on a long journey where you have covered different time zones. How did you feel? Did you lose appetite? Did you become restless? Had feelings of cold and anxiousness? Lack of focus and energy? This is why our body needs good quality sleep.
I hope that you have learnt the importance of sleep for our general health and especially for those of you who are wanting to lose weight.