Updated: Feb 11, 2022
Over the years, there have been numerous studies about how inadequate amount of sleep can cause overeating and weight gain. In fact, many researches have shown that not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of overeating and snacking, thus leading to obesity. Sleep deprivation can especially cause eating unhealthy foods, which ultimately contributes to weight gain.
Additionally, getting enough sleep is important to your overall health. Sleep deprivation can cause irritability, loss of focus, increased blood pressure, among other things.
Sleep is your best friend - helps with recovery and weight-loss
There are many good reasons as to why adequate sleep is part of many healthy eating plans. When a body gets less than seven hours of sleep, it changes the way it releases appetite-controlling hormones. When this happens, the stomach secretes a hormone called ghrelin. The purpose of this hormone is to tell your body that you are hungry. In fact, there are two hormones that regulate hunger: ghrelin and leptin. They are both affected by sleep - or the lack thereof. While ghrelin increases your appetite, leptin decreases it.
When you do not get enough sleep, the production of leptin decreases while the production of ghrelin increases, making you feel hungrier than you actually should. This is what leads to overeating, snacking, and unhealthy food choices, thus causing weight gain. In addition, being too tired (and possibly feeling sluggish after eating too much) can cause you to skip exercise as well.
Also, as you exercise, you cause micro tears in your muscles. In order to repair the damage and be ready for your next workout, you have to let your body rest and recover.
Without adequate sleep, your body will not recover and working out will not yield to any results - on the contrary: it will only make you feel more tired and sore.
Lack of sleep causes other problems, too
Experts agree that in order to lose weight, or maintain your healthy weight, you should get at least eight hours of sleep a night. However, lack of sleep does not only affect your appetite-controlling hormones: it also causes many other problems. For instance, slacking off on getting enough sleep sets your brain up to making bad decisions.
Being too tired dulls the activity in the frontal lobe, which is on charge of decision-making and impulse control. This is also the reason why researchers say that driving a car while sleep deprived is as bar (if not worse) as driving drunk. Interestingly, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition determined that when people did not get enough sleep, their late-night snacking increased.
In addition, they were more likely to choose high-carb snacks. In another study that was conducted by the University of Chicago, sleep deprived people chose snacks with twice as much fat as those people who slept adequately, at least 8 hours a night.
In conclusion, studies have shown that sleeping less than eight hours a night will cause people to eat more and bigger portions, choose high-carb and high fat snacks, and eat late at night. All of this contributes to weight gain.
How does sleep affect metabolism?
Sleep is nutrition for your brain. In fact, researches have shown that most people need at least 7 hours of sleep every night, some even up to 9 hours. When you do not get enough sleep, it causes a cortisol spike in your body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that signals to your body to conserve energy to fuel the hours you are awake. In other words, your body is more apt to hanging onto body fat.
Interestingly, some researchers found that when dieters slept less than optimal over a 14-day period, the amount of weight they lost from fat reduced by 55%, whilst calories stayed the same. Additionally, the dieters reported feeling hungrier than normal, and being less satisfied after eating. Also, their desire to be active decreased.
According to the University of Chicago researchers, sleep deprivation makes you “metabolically groggy.” In only four days of not getting enough sleep, your body’s ability to process insulin decreases. Insulin is in charge of processing sugar, starches, and other food into energy. As insulin sensitivity drops during sleep deprivation, your body will not be able to process consumed foods as well as it should.
Additionally, when your body does not respond to insulin properly, it cannot process fats from your bloodstream properly: instead, it ends up storing them as fat.
Get started on your weight-loss journey
For many, losing weight is one of their fitness goals. However, there are many important factors that contribute to weight-loss: for instance; adequate exercise, a proper diet, drinking enough water, and (as we have established) getting enough sleep.
When getting on the path to weight loss, you should remember that it includes more than just eating less and exercising more: it is a lifestyle change. The good news is, though, that you do not need to do it alone.
If your goal is to lose weight (or you have any other fitness goals, for that matter), a personal trainer in Newark can help you get started. Contact us to discuss your options! Also - we offer online personal training, too.