What are the first things that come to your mind when you think of losing weight? Lots and lots of cardio? Exercising like a beast? Dieting? Starving yourself?
In fact, after nutrition and eating habits, sleep is the second biggest cause for having a few extra pounds(Link to study). Look around, night shift workers (Call centers, Nurses, security, etc.) will eventually start becoming overweight because of their lack of sleep. It is an unfortunate side effect of their working hours. Are you unknowingly becoming a shift worker?
Here are a few reasons why the lack of sleep causes you to put on weight:
- The most basic and common sense reason for this is; in today’s “snacking” world. The more hours you are awake, the more snacking and eating you will do. Let’s face it, the late night snacks aren’t the healthiest. I have yet to find someone crave a salad at 1:30 in the night instead of that tub of Ice-Cream! (yum)
- Sleep also regulates your hunger hormone Ghrelin. It was studied that sleep deprived people ended up having more of the hunger hormone Ghrelin and less of the hormone Leptin (which signals to the brain that you are full). And we can’t fight our hormones.
- Sleep also replenishes our “will power tank”. Each morning we wake up with a finite amount of will power to make choices. Studies show that sleep deprivation leads to a low will power for making healthy choices. So that cheese cake now becomes even harder to resist. Why make things harder than they need to be!?
- Lack of sleep can decrease your energy through the day. Massively compromising your workouts and trainings. Lethargy can set in, disrupting routines. Workout routines that took a lot of effort to establish.
- On a calorie restricted diet (most common weight loss diets) the idea is to lose fat and retain your muscle. However in a study conducted (for the geek in you) they learnt that sleep deprivation + calorie restriction can lead to weight loss by losing muscle mass! We don’t ever want to lose muscle mass in the pursuit of weight loss.
How much easier can this be? We are literally asking you to sleep more! Never sacrifice sleep for the sake of a workout at the gym. Focus on the quality of sleep that you get.
Similarly, sleep is closely related to:
-Our mental functioning as well
-How we get stronger
So start by sleeping an hour earlier every few weeks, till you find a good balance. Lay back relax and lose weight.