If you’re trying to slim down or maintain your weight, the problem may not be your calorie counting or your workouts. It could be your sleep. Studies show that there are many links between snoozing poorly over a significant period of time and the ability to lose weight. Here’s why:
How Sleep Can Impact Your Weight Loss Goal
“Over time, lack of sleep can change how your body processes blood sugar and regulates the hormones that control hunger and appetite,” says Fitbit sleep advisor Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
Some research reveals that making a habit of sleeping for an average of six hours or less increases your risk of weight gain and, if this sleep deprivation is chronic, can be one of the reasons you become obese, says Grandner. And another study shows losing just a couple of hours of sleep a few nights in a row can lead to almost immediate weight gain.
During the night, you get a natural increase in the hormone leptin, which keeps you from getting hungry. Staying up keeps this leptin level from rising, says Grandner, which leads to late night cravings.
Sleep deprivation can keep your brain from making good decisions, especially late at night. “This can lead to unhealthy food or exercise choices that you wouldn’t make if you were well rested,” says Grander.
The genes that regulate all of your body’s rhythms also play an important role in metabolism and energy storage. Because lack of sleep can disrupt these rhythms, the result can be an increase in storing energy as fat and not using it.
On the other hand, “sleeping well can help your body regulate metabolism, regulate food cravings, and make better decisions about what and when to eat,” says Grandner.
Bottomline: If you’ve set a goal to lose weight, it’s probably a good idea to set a goal to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, too.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.