You’ve been counting every single calorie that goes into your mouth. You’ve been increasing your energy expenditure by slaving away in the gym. But you can’t get the scale to budge even a little bit. So what’s the problem? It’s probably a lack of sleep! Even if you’re getting your required 8 hours or more each night, you could be suffering from poor quality sleep which is keeping you fat or making you larger. Below, we’ll explain the physiological connection between poor sleep and poor weight management – and we’ll even give you some helpful suggestions to correct the problem.
The Connection Between Poor Sleep and a Larger Waistline
For most people, “when calories in, calories out” fails them, they assume it’s their fault and give up. What nobody tells them is that this is blatantly untrue. Human physiology is much more complicated than simple addition and subtraction; that’s why CICO usually fails when the other factors of our complicated lives come into play. And one of the most complicated and difficult to control factors which hinders most people’s weight loss progress is also one of the most frequently overlooked: poor sleep. Let’s take a closer look and how getting insufficient or poor-quality sleep can drastically sabotage your weight loss efforts.
Poor Sleep Dysregulates Your Hunger Hormones
Do you ever struggle with hunger cravings and trying to maintain a calorie deficit while losing weight? This happens frequently for people who don’t get good sleep on a regular basis (or for those who follow a poor sleep diet). Believe it or not, getting high quality rest is an integral part of keeping your hunger hormones regulated so that you can muster the necessary will power to maintain a healthy calorie deficit. And it starts with two very important hormones: leptin and ghrelin.
Leptin is a hormone that makes you feel full when you finish eating a sizable, satiating meal. But when you get poor sleep, your body produces less leptin and your brain becomes less sensitive to receiving leptin signals. Conversely, poor sleep also produces more ghrelin – the hunger hormone – and makes your body more sensitive to receiving these hunger signals. When this happens, you will overeat, and you will typically make poor food choices when you binge on these excess calories. But remember: this isn’t your fault. It’s a combination of a bad night’s sleep and unavoidable human physiology.
Poor Sleep Also Spikes Your Stress Response
Ghrelin and leptin aren’t the only hormones that your body dysregulates when you don’t sleep enough. It also spikes your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and in moderate amounts, is perfectly healthy and even necessary for optimal health. But when you get poor quality sleep, or when you don’t sleep enough hours, your body will produce more cortisol. Just like with hunger hormone dysregulation, the stress from the extra cortisol will lead you to binge and eat unhealthy foods in order to cope with the excess stress.
The Vicious Cycle of Weight Gain and Poor Sleep
This hormone dysregulation is only the beginning. Once you fail to lose the weight you want to lose because of your poor sleep – or worse, gain more weight – it compounds the problem. Weight gain can cause sleep apnea, which will drastically decrease the quality of your sleep even if you get your doctor-recommended 8 hours. Furthermore, people who gain weight after a poor night’s sleep tend to store more visceral fat. Visceral fat, to make a long story short, drastically contributes to more hormone dysregulation.
If this all sounds like an inescapable trap, don’t worry – there is hope. Read through our tips below to find out how you can break the cycle and improve your weight loss efforts through better quality sleep.
How to Boost Weight Loss Through Better Sleep
Most people who have trouble getting good quality sleep at night tend to have pretty poor sleep hygiene. So that’s where you need to start. You can start with the sleep hygiene guide that we already have here on our site. Pay special attention to the biggest weaknesses that most people find when they analyze their own sleep hygiene routines:
- Late night blue light exposure – late night exposure to blue light (light from electronic devices including televisions, computers, and smartphones) inhibits your brain’s ability to produce melatonin. Without melatonin, the body has a hard time getting sleepy in the evening
- Create the right sleeping environment – your bedroom should be cool, dark, and free of distractions like electronics or pets. You should only use your bedroom for sleep and intimacy. If your bedroom is warm, bright, or well-lit, then you might need to make some changes
- Getting more exercise – the more energy you burn during the day, the more your body will demand rest at night. This can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and improve the amount of deep sleep you get each night
- Eat healthier – add more colorful, whole foods to your plate when you eat. The added nutrients will help reduce stress, regulate your hormones, and even help balance the neurotransmitters in your brain for better mood. And all of these things will help you sleep easier at night
- Avoid synthetic sleeping pills – prescription and/or pharmacy sleeping pills may knock you out; but the problem is that they severely diminish the quality of sleep you get. And they can make it harder for you to get to sleep on your own once you stop taking them. So try your best to fall asleep naturally at all costs!
One change you can make right away is to switch from synthetic or prescription sleeping pills to an all natural sleep aid instead. Avinol PM is one such sleep aid. It combines some of the most potent natural ingredients which are as safe as they are effective at helping your body rest naturally. The more natural your rest, the better quality of sleep you will experience – and the more weight you will eventually lose.