For those of you who are losing weight, the amount of sleep you get may be just as important as your nutrition and workout.
Unfortunately, many people aren't getting enough sleep, or having quality sleep. A lot of evidence shows that sleep may be the missing factor for many people who are struggling to lose weight.
1. Poor Sleep and Weight Gain
Studies have found that poor sleep is associated with weight gain and a higher likelihood of obesity in both adults and children.
People's sleep requirements vary, but, generally speaking, research has observed changes in weight when people get fewer than seven hours of sleep a night.
A study followed about 60,000 non-obese nurses for 16 years. At the end of the study, the nurses who slept five or fewer hours per night were 15% more likely to be obese than those who slept at least seven hours a night.
Additionally, many sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, are worsened by weight gain. It's a vicious cycle that can be hard to escape. Poor sleep can cause weight gain, which can cause sleep quality to decrease even further.
2. Sleep Helps You Make Healthy Choices
Poor sleep can decrease your self-control and decision-making abilities and can increase the brain's reaction to food. It has also been linked to increased intake of foods high in calories, fats and carbs.
Sleep deprivation will actually dull activity in the frontal lobe of the brain. The frontal lobe is in charge of decision-making and self-control. In addition, it appears that the reward centres of the brain are more stimulated by food when you are sleep deprived. Therefore, after a night of poor sleep, not only is that bowl of ice cream more rewarding, but you'll likely have a harder time practicing self-control.
A study of 12 men observed the effects of sleep deprivation on food intake.
When participants were only allowed four hours of sleep, their calorie intake increased by 22%, and their fat intake almost doubled, compared to when they were allowed eight hours of sleep.
3. Sleep Can Enhance Physical Activity
A lack of sleep can cause daytime fatigue, making you less likely and less motivated to engage in physical activity. A study done on 15 men found that when participants were sleep-deprived, the amount and intensity of their physical activity decreased.
Lack of sleep may decrease your exercise motivation, quantity and intensity. Getting more sleep may even help improve performance.
Along with eating right and exercising, getting quality and quantity of sleep is an important part of weight maintenance. Poor sleep dramatically alters the way the body responds to food.