7 April 2008
Sleeping Your Way to Weight Loss
I was speaking to someone recently who made an interesting observation. She went away for a long weekend having weighed herself before she left. She then weighed herself on her return and found that she had lost a couple of pounds. As usual, she weighed herself a few days later and noticed that the weight had returned. I asked her what had changed over the period and she wasn’t sure. Although she had been in a different environment, she’d followed her regular routine with food and exercise. When she thought about it in more detail, the only thing that was different while she was away was that she slept better. She slept for longer and had a deeper sleep resulting in her feeling more refreshed when she woke up.
Had she slept herself slimmer?
And could the return to a sleep deprived routine account for her weight gain?
The answer is yes, it could. Research has shown that lack of sleep can make you fat. If we consistently fail to get enough sleep, our bodies release less leptin into our system. Leptin is a hormone that signals the state of fat stores. Sleep deprivation also causes our bodies to release more ghrelin, a hormone that signals hunger. The result of these changes in the balance of our system increase the likelihood of overeating which can, in turn, lead to weight gain.
Even if your tiredness doesn’t lead you to overeating and gain weight, not getting enough sleep can cause problems with your weight loss progamme. Feeling tired can be stressful and when we’re stressed we produce more of the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. The presence of these hormones in your system can force your metabolism to slow down and hang on to fat. This can impact on your fitness workout, making it less effective in burning body fat than the same routines performed when you are feeling calm.
Remember this if you ever encounter a period when you’re not getting the results you want from your fitness programme or diet plan. There may be no need to change your exercise or your food routine but instead look at your sleep pattern.
Here are the golden rules of getting enough sleep:
1. Work out how much sleep you need and schedule the ideal hours for getting this sleep
2. Stick to a routine and stick to it. Establish a bed time and a waking time and you’ll sleep well in the hours in-between
3. Clear out your sleeping environment. Bedrooms are for sleeping so get rid of the TV, computer, any exercise equipment and put all clothes away every evening.
Isn’t that refreshing? The key to effectively managing your weight is to sleep! Okay - maybe just in part. There's no escaping the fact that diet and fitness are the greatest contributor to losing weight but it's worth bearing in mind next time you let your weight worries stress you out and keep you awake.
Coming Soon: Changes you can make to your exercise plan and food routine that will help you sleep better.
Photograph by John Carleton (Flickr)