The Importance of Sleep for Weight Loss
Sleep as we know is an important factor when it comes to many aspects of our health and wellbeing. But what role does it play in weight loss?
When it comes to weight loss, the two key strategies often first thought about is diet and exercise however an important lifestyle factor we can’t miss is sleep. There are links to show that getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night has been linked with greater weight loss and decreased risk of obesity (1). Poor sleep quality is also associated with increased risk of metabolic disorders and other chronic disease (1).
In a study done of individuals who consistently slept less than 5.5 hours, they lost 55% less body fat and 60% more fat-free mass compared with people who slept 8.5 hours (2). Going to bed late also has been associated with increased intake of food after dinner which influences weight loss (2).
Not only does a poor sleep affect our mood and concentration, but it also affects our ability to have enough energy to be active which is essential in maintaining weight loss and overall health (1). Physical activity has a reciprocal relationship in that it also helps to improve sleep quality.
Appetite and metabolism
Appetite works in a way that our body sends signals to notify us that we are hungry and need to eat. Ghrelin is a hormone responsible for stimulating hunger and leptin is responsible for decreasing our hunger (3). When we don’t get enough sleep, our body increases the levels of ghrelin and decreases the levels of leptin which can make it hard to not overeat and impact our food selection (3).
Our metabolism is how our body breaks down what we eat and drink into energy. Sleep relates to various metabolic processes in our body and so poor sleep and prolonged sleep deprivation can cause havoc on multiple systems including glucose or sugar metabolism and ultimately weight gain as excess glucose can be converted to fat (3).
It is doubtless that sleep is important for weight loss and should be an important part in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you get a good night’s sleep:
- Keep a sleep schedule that’s regular – try going to sleep and waking up at the same time routinely to assist sleep quality
- Have enough time to wind down and relax before bed – set a routine that helps you relax before sleeping
- Avoid late night snacking – eating late can affect hormones
- Get active – being physically active can improve your quality of sleep but not right before bed
- Eat healthy – Follow a Mediterranean high-quality diet with an adequate intake of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, and fish, as this has been shown to positively effect cortisol regulation and therefore sleep quality. Studies have shown the Mediterranean diet has also been inversely associated with insomnia symptoms including difficulty initiating and maintaining sleep. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation, oxidative stress and improve psychological well-being factors including stress and sleep. The Be Fit Food programs have been scientifically designed to employ the Mediterranean diet principles.
- org. 2022. Why Is Sleep Important to Weight Loss? | Sleep Foundation. [online] Available at: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/weight-loss-and-sleep
- Chaput, J. and Tremblay, A., 2012. Adequate sleep to improve the treatment of obesity. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 184(18), pp.1975-1976.
- Sharma, S. and Kavuru, M., 2010. Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview. International Journal of Endocrinology, 2010, pp.1-12.