Are you looking to lose weight? Do you get enough sleep? Surprisingly, these two are more intertwined than you might think.
Get this: If you sleep fewer than 7 hours a night, you’re 41% (yes, read that again) more likely to be obese. In fact, individuals who sleep less also tend to eat about 385 calories more per day—that’s an extra 140,525 calories per year (To put this in perspective even more, that’s about 140 pounds of fat)!
Other research links a lower sleep duration with a higher waist circumference, which suggests higher belly (visceral) fat. Now, you might already know that belly fat is a huge risk factor when it comes to chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic issues (more on this in a minute).
So, why does this happen? What the heck does sleep have to do with weight gain or loss? And how is it interfering with your health?
Well… ever notice when you had a bad sleep, you end up combating cravings all day? Maybe you just can’t get that chocolate donut out of your head.
You aren’t alone.
The New York Post reported that you can blame your sugar cravings on a lack of sleep! It’s actually a pretty big societal problem. Many people work late and eat late. Sleep gets pushed down our list of priorities, often coming last compared to other aspects of our life.
And what happens here is that our hormones get thrown completely out of whack, particularly the ones involved in regulating appetite and meal timing.
When you’re sleep deprived, your body’s ghrelin levels go up, so you’re hungrier. On top of this, leptin levels go down, meaning the hormone involved in regulating your body’s food intake versus energy expenditure doesn’t get a chance to shine. The inevitable happens… weight gain. We end up eating more calories than we use.
But getting a good night’s rest consistently can keep all of this in check. You don’t need to waste tons of money on expensive workout programs or meal plans. Instead, nail down the affordable basics, like sleep, first.
Plus, when we don’t sleep well, we just don’t do life well either. We get sick. We don’t live as long as we could. We experience brain fog and cognition impairments. Our metabolism (thanks to our hormones) gets thrown off. We just end up feeling “meh.” And no one wants to feel that way! (I think we can all agree here.)
A big problem I see is that the regular doctors visits don’t cut it. Rarely do doctors ask about sleep. When was the last time your doctor asked? Or if they did ask, did they address it? How?
Well, here’s another twist: Medication often isn’t the answer. Sure, it has its place. But if you aren’t doing the basics when it comes to sleep, that’s where we should start.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time.
- Perform a relaxing bedtime routine 1-2 hours before bed.
- Avoid screens 1-2 hours before bed.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet, and cool room.
Taking it to another level… What other medications are you on? Sometimes, these can interfere with sleep, causing you to fall into the pit of despair.
Luckily, you can easily figure out if you’re nailing the foundations of sleep through wearable technology, like smart watches and the Oura Ring. These devices will break down your sleep habits, helping you understand what’s going on and where you can make improvements.
Many of these devices even track your HRV, showing how well you’re recovering as you sleep and helping you determine what activities you should perform the next day. They can also offer tips to improve REM or deep sleep, if these aren’t up to par. It will also show you how often you wake up each night. All useful data points that you can work with!
For instance, if you notice your REM sleep plummets when you have two glasses of wine within a couple of hours before bed, well, this is probably a good sign that those two glasses of wine aren’t helping you wind down like you think. In fact, they are definitely interfering with your sleep cycles if you lack REM sleep.
Want to get your sleep foundations on track? Email me at email@example.com to schedule a consultation.