Being short on sleep can really affect your weight

Healthy sleep has a positive effect on the human body, and lack of sleep leads to a health issues and the emergence of many chronic diseases. In our blog, we have collected important information on how to make sleep healthy and lose weight, and how to avoid lack of sleep. We have prepared some tips so that you can improve the quality of sleep and its duration. 

How sleep and weight loss are connected: the findings of scientists

In recent decades, the amount of time that people devote to sleep has been steadily declining, just like the quality of rest. This is due to workaholism (a lot of time is devoted to work), gambling addiction (computer games at night), and changes in the rhythm of life in general. And the body mass index of most people has been increasing in recent years, which can be characterized as a trend towards an increase in body weight and obesity rates in the entire population of the planet.

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Numerous studies have shown that limited sleep, less than 7 hours per night, can lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain, an increased risk of obesity and the emergence of many chronic diseases. However, a good rest, which is about 8 hours, on the contrary, helps people who are on a diet lose weight faster.

Special peptide hormones, ghrelin and leptin, play a key role in the formation of appetite. Ghrelin makes you feel hungry, while leptin makes you feel full. The body naturally increases or decreases the levels of these appetite regulators throughout the day, signaling the need to consume calories.

Lack of sleep can affect the production of these hormones. So, in one study, men who had been sleeping for 4 hours per a day, more ghrelin and less leptin were released in the body compared to those who slept for 10 hours. After that, the scientists concluded that dysregulation of ghrelin and leptin can lead to increased appetite and reduced satiety in people deprived of sufficient sleep.

In addition, several other studies have shown that reducing rest time affects food preferences. People who sleep less than 7 hours a night are more likely to consume high-calorie foods and carbohydrates. 


Metabolism speeding up or slowing down: how sleep affects energy transformation

Metabolism is a chemical process during which the human body converts incoming food and drink into energy necessary for life. For any action, such as breathing, walking or reading, we expend energy.

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Active activity such as exercise can temporarily increase metabolism, but sleep does not. During a night's rest, the conversion of substances that have entered the body into energy slows down by 15% and reaches the lowest level in the morning. 

Lack of healthy sleep for 7-8 hours due to insomnia, sleep apnea or other abnormalities in most cases leads to metabolic dysregulation. In addition, poor sleep increases insulin resistance, and extra hours of wakefulness can increase a person's appetite, resulting in late snacking. A short night's rest can also disrupt circadian rhythms (fluctuations in the intensity of biological processes), leading to weight gain.

Thus, during sleep, metabolism slows down, and due to lack of sleep, metabolic disorders occur. 

Lack of sleep: a consequence in the form of obesity

In children and adolescents, there is an association between sleep deprivation and an increased risk of obesity, the causes of which are not yet fully understood. Lack of sleep provokes metabolic disorders. Children become lethargic in the morning and refuse breakfast, and skipping meals will make them want to eat at midday. Usually, they satisfy this desire with the help of sweet, salty and fatty foods.

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In adults, the relationship between poor sleep and obesity is less clear. However, an analysis of recent studies shows that people who sleep less than 6 hours a night will be more prone to obesity. So watch the amount of time spent in bed and try to get enough sleep.


5 tips to improve the quality of sleep and its duration

1. Stick to a regular sleep schedule. To normalize the rest regime, you should go to bed at the same time every day, this also applies to morning rises. Fluctuating sleep schedules and oversleeping on the weekends after not getting enough sleep on weekdays can cause a change in metabolism and reduce insulin sensitivity, which will cause blood sugar levels to rise.

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2. Neutralize all irritating factors during sleep. Rest at night only in a dark room without any light source. Also try to turn off all objects that make noise and neutralize annoying odors. The presence of these factors can lead to difficulty falling asleep or nighttime awakenings during which you may have an increased appetite.

3. Late eating contributes to weight gain and reduces the effect of attempts to lose weight.

4. Minimize stressors. Constant nervous tension can lead to poor sleep and weight gain due to frequent meals to cope with negative emotions.

5. Go sleep early (22:00-23:00). People who go to bed late may consume more calories from evening and night snacks, so they are at increased risk of gaining extra weight. 

Cover photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

Julia Stecher is an award-winning fitness model, professional nutritionist, and certified personal trainer who provides personal training services in Zurich and online.

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