Sleep and Weight Gain: How Does One Affect the Other?
's a known fact: losing weight is difficult, and keeping excess weight off is just as challenging. Here's a radical thought: Might sleep actually be the key to your successful weight loss?
The Science behind Sleep and Weight
The medical community is still untangling the complex relationship of sleep habits and body weight, and how they affect each other. What's the connection? What is the science showing about how they impact each other?
Many studies strongly suggest a link between a healthy metabolism and getting a good night's rest, and also the inverse -- the negative health impacts of sleep deprivation as regards our weight.
"Studies suggest people who sleep fewer than 6 hours per night gain almost TWICE as much weight over a 6-year period compared to people who sleep 7 to 8 hours per night," shares Ashley Harland, fat loss and mindset coach.
Through her "Bangin' Body Blueprint" program, Ashley has helped countless women lose weight, build confidence and get their ideal body by adapting to a better mindset.
Better Sleep Health for Better Metabolism
Ashley points out that sleep "controls two hormones: leptin and ghrelin."
Leptin is one of the hormones directly related to body fat and body weight regulation; it controls satiety and fullness levels. Ghrelin is your hunger hormone that either increases or decreases your appetite. If you're getting poor sleep, ghrelin levels skyrocket, making your stomach feel like a never-ending black hole.
"Essentially, more ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain. So ultimately, poor sleep can lead to increased appetite, lower satiety, cravings, low energy, increased inflammation and increased fat storage."
Therefore, if lack of sleep leads to weight gain… does it mean more sleep will result in weight loss?
"More sleep doesn't directly lead to weight loss," Ashley answers, "although it can drastically decrease inflammatory molecules in the body, therefore making the body less prone to fat storage, and regulate the metabolism, which will prevent you from overeating."
Think about it: sleep deprivation often leads to a craving for an energy boost.
We check our fridge for an unhealthy midnight snack, maybe a bag of chips or a doughnut for a quick sugar boost. We are more inclined to skip the gym and order takeout due to the lack of energy to exercise and cook.
Sleep loss creates a vicious cycle that will sooner or later sabotage your health. Think of good sleep like paying off your credit card -- if we start accumulating debt instead, the interest rates compound until your body crashes.
Tips to Improve Sleep Hygiene
“The two most common sleep struggles are falling asleep and staying asleep all night,” Ashley asserts.
If you struggle with falling asleep, Ashley recommends doing what she calls a "brain dump" -- which means “writing down all of your thoughts, worries and emotions onto a piece of paper before you climb into bed. This will stop your mind from running a mile a minute and allow you to get some shut-eye.”
If you struggle staying asleep and often find yourself waking in the middle of the night, Ashley recommends supplementing with magnesium before bed. “It's a natural mineral most people (especially women) are deficient in anyways, and is a natural muscle relaxer that will help you feel calm and stay asleep through the night.”
Ashley personally doesn’t recommend melatonin, as studies have shown it inhibits the body's natural production of the substance, making you reliant on taking it and therefore causing difficulty falling asleep without it in the future.
Other Helpful Reminders to Improve Sleep
“Your sleep is impacted, for better or worse,
Ashley reminds us that we should limit our caffeine intake or switch to decaf after 3 or 4 pm. Avoid eating big or high-cholesterol meals close to bedtime. Likewise, alcohol before sleep (or a ‘nightcap’) is not recommended, and can even disrupt your sleep patterns.
Also beneficial is to limit exercise before bed, lower the temperature of your room, use blackout curtains if necessary, put away screens at least 30 minutes before bed, and implement a nightly routine of reading, stretching, meditating, etc.
These activities will all act as a cue for your body that it's time to wind down and go to sleep.
Finally, invest in your sleep surface! A good majority of reported sleep problems could have easily been solved by the right sleep surface with the proper support and design!
If you experience any symptoms, pain or problem relating to sleep, you need to address that underlying problem to improve your sleep hygiene. Speak to any of our sleep specialists about getting proper diagnostics at MajesticBeds, and a superior-quality sleep mattress tailor-fit to your needs.