When you think about the factors that affect your weight, there are a few that probably come to mind: your genetics, your diet and you your exercise routine. But did you know that your sleep quality also plays a huge role in your weight and overall health?
If you're trying to lose weight, you'll want to pay just as much attention to your sleep as you do to what you're eating and how many miles you're running. In fact, sleep is so important for an effective weight-loss routine that even if you're eating well and exercising often, without a good night’s sleep you might not even see that much progress at all. How, you might be wondering? Let’s take a deeper look.
Sleep Impacts Your Metabolism
The clearest, deepest link between sleep and weight as to do with how sleep impacts your metabolism. Our metabolism is essentially the set of processes that happen inside our body that keep us alive. Most relevantly, it governs how our food is broken down and turned into energy, as well as how fat is stored or burned.
When we don’t get enough sleep, our metabolism slows down, leading us to store more fat than we burn. Inadequate sleep causes our body to secrete too much of the stress hormone Cortisol, which signals to your body to store your food as fat. Additionally, Insulin (the blood sugar hormone) is also impacted, leading to higher blood sugar levels and therefore more fat storage.
Sleep Influences Your Appetite
Put simply, lack of sleep generally causes people to consume more food. One way this happens is fairly obvious: the longer you spend awake, the more time there is to fill with eating. Especially if you're staying up late and eating calorie-dense midnight snacks, skimping on sleep is likely to lead to over-indulgence.
There's also a brain-chemistry component to this. When we are sleep deprived, our hormonal makeup changes: we secrete more ghrelin (the hormone that signals hunger) and less leptin (the hormone that tells us when we're full). Additionally, excess Cortisol causes us to crave high-sugar, high-fat foods. All together, this doesn’t paint a very pretty picture for your waistline.
Sleep Affects Your Energy Levels and Exercise Performance
Not only does sleep cause you to consume more calories, but it also gets in the way of working them off. When you don't get enough sleep, you're tired. And when you're tired, you have little-to-no extra energy to spend at the gym. Additionally, even if you do manage to get in your workout, you need good quality sleep to rest and repair your muscles. Otherwise, you’ll be left sore and tired.
Sleep Regulates Your Impulse Control (...and lack of sleep throws it off)
We already talked about how sleep deprivation causes you to overeat, but did you know it can also cause you to eat the wrong things? Lack of sleep impairs our brain's impulse-control and smart decision making centers. Even with the best intentions, this often leads you to fall into temptation. Those cupcakes in the office? Sure, I’ll have one. Pepperoni pizza instead of the salad you planned to have? Yum! The leftover birthday cake in the fridge? Don’t mind if I do. Getting enough sleep will help you stick to your plan and see success in your efforts.
As we can see, getting consistent good quality sleep is essential for regulating our weight. Without it, our weight-loss efforts will lag behind, and we could even end up sneaking on some extra pounds.
If you’re finding that you’re not getting the best sleep you can, despite trying your best, it might be time to reevaluate your mattress. If you find that you do need a new mattress, come visit us at one of Sleep First’s locations, where we’ll be glad to talk through your needs and guide you towards the best mattress for you (and your waistline). And if you find you're still having trouble, don't be afraid to talk to your doctor about potential undiagnosed sleep disorders. Because sleep? It’s one of the most important things of all.