As scientific research advances, more and more important evidence linking sleep and weight emerges. In today’s fast-paced world, it is hard to find time for sleep. Too often, we find ourselves ignoring our need for adequate sleep and functioning on fumes. Continuing to shrug off the overwhelming research and overlook our poor sleeping habits, however, may prove dangerous to our weight and to our overall health. If you want an effective, natural way to lose weight, getting more sleep may be the answer.
The warning signs are overwhelming. Studies show that sleep deprived people are exceedingly likely to overeat and, therefore, gain weight, fast. Indeed, recent research suggests that, after just one night without enough sleep, people may eat upwards of 500 additional calories the following day. These 500 or so additional, daily calories are nothing to laugh off; at this rate, those that are consistently sleep deprived will find themselves gaining weight at rapid, frightening paces. Conversely, if you can get more sleep, the cravings for those extra 500 or so calories can go away, and you will find that without having to do anything additional, you will start to lose weight.
What, then, leads the overtired body to overeating? The answer to our weighty question starts at the hormonal level. Those that are sleep deprived will have increased levels of the hormone ghrelin in their body, as well as decreased levels of the hormone leptin in their body, both of which are problematic in terms of overeating and weight. Ghrelin is the hormone is responsible for hunger, and leptin is the hormone responsible for feeling full. So, more ghrelin but less leptin will not only make you feel hungrier, it will also make it much more difficult for you to finally satisfy this hunger. In this way, a person may eat at increased rates for longer periods of time and, therefore, gain more weight.
When this happens, sensors in the sleep-deprived brain responsible for logical thinking are impaired, leaving us with a dangerous combination: a tired brain susceptible to making poor decisions, and a very hungry stomach. In this case, you will begin eating a ton of food—most of which will be unhealthy. Instead of reaching for nutritional, healthy foods (like fruits or vegetables), we crave junk foods (like sweets and fats). Whether we realize it or not, we eat not to satisfy our hunger, but to feel pleasure. Our sweet teeth become activated, and there is little we can do to stop it. To make matters worse, this unhealthy overeating occurs not during meals, but in frequent snacking, especially at night, when we are most exhausted. Keeping this up for the long-term can lead to even scarier results, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
In short, the correlation is clear: without enough sleep, you are exposing yourself to overeating unhealthy food and to weight gain. Combatting this problem, however, is also simple: fix your sleeping schedule. If you are not getting enough sleep at night—and in this you would not be alone; studies show that almost 30% of adults receive fewer than six hours of sleep per night—you need to readjust your schedule. Making time for more sleep—whether this means cutting back on TV binging, getting into bed earlier for light-reading, even preparing for your day during the night before—means living a healthier lifestyle. With more sleep, your hormones will be balanced, your appetite will return to normal and you’ll have energy for exercising. It may seem hard, but reprioritizing your sleeping cycle may just be the most important thing you can do to take care of your body. We also of course recommend getting a really great mattress, so make sure to check out our reviews here, or an example review here.