Sleep and weight loss go together like peanut butter and jelly.
You have the best diet and workout routine on the planet, but if you’re not getting enough quality sleep then you’re not going to lose weight.
Today’s culture looks at sleep as unimportant and the common quote you’ll hear often is “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
It’s no wonder so many people today are overweight, exhausted and have a multitude of chronic diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of three people are sleep deprived. And the statistic for obesity is nearly identical with people getting six or fewer hours of sleep per night.
Getting enough high-quality sleep is so important to not only losing weight but for many other health factors.
Sleep impacts your immune system, your hormones, your metabolism, your energy levels and even how well your brain functions.
If you’re not getting the sleep you find yourself hungrier throughout the day with less self-control. It’s like fighting an uphill battle against weight gain.
The less sleep you get it becomes more tempting to skip workouts and eat more junk food.
A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found women who are sleep deprived were a third more likely to gain 33 pounds over a 16 year period.
I’m sure you agree getting enough quality sleep is hard. Yet it’s incredibly important for weight loss.
Here find tips and strategies you can use to get higher quality sleep so you can keep losing weight along with your diet and exercise.
The Sleep and Weight Loss Relationship
Eve Van Cauter Ph.D. called sleep deprivation…
You will find yourself not losing the weight you want without enough quality sleep. This is even if you have the willpower to somehow stay in control of your diet and on top of your workouts.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found people not getting enough sleep were more likely to snack late at night. They are also much likelier to choose a high carb snack, which of course will make them fatter.
Sleep deprivation can decrease your insulin sensitivity. This can as well disrupt your hormonal cycles thus lowering the functioning of your brain.
A major review found short sleep duration increase the likelihood of becoming obese in children by 89%. The study also found an increase of up to 55% for adults who are sleep deprived.
Without enough quality sleep, you can fully expect for your brain to function at a much lower percentage than it normally would.
This study found after 24 hours of sleep deprivation participants had an overall reduction of 6% of glucose reaching their brain.
Your brain feeds off this glucose for energy. This is why when you’re sleep deprived your body craves those sweet, sugary and starchy rich foods.
Your body uses this natural survival instinct to get the glucose back into its brain. Back in the days of your ancestors if you didn’t have enough glucose in your brain you are likelier to die. You needed your brain to function properly.
Your willpower only last so long and without enough sleep, you have much less of it. You will stack the conditions against you the less sleep you’re getting.
But when you’re getting enough high quality sleep you can fully expect to:
- perform better
- feel better
- make decisions
- better looking body.
You need this high quality of sleep at night for optimal hormonal functions. Sleep is when your body heals muscle tissues you broke down earlier with your workout.
This study in The Lancet found sleep-deprived people took 14% longer to complete a task. They also made 20% more errors than those who were getting enough quality sleep.
No Sleep = No Weight Loss
Not too many people are aware of just how important getting enough quality sleep is for weight loss.
Often a client will come to me asking why they aren’t losing weight.
They will appear to be following their diet perfectly and doing all the workouts. What’s the problem?
The first question I’ll ask them is how many hours of sleep they’re getting. It’s usually six or fewer hours per night.
An interesting study in the Annals of Internal Medicine followed dieters on different sleep schedules. They found when the dieters had enough rest the weight they lost was half from fat.
They found the sleep-deprived group had a reduction in weight lost from fat by half.
The sleep-deprived group also felt hungrier, was less satisfied after meals and they found themselves without the energy to even exercise.
At the end of the day group not getting enough sleep had more than a 50% reduction in fat loss. Compared to the group that was getting enough high-quality sleep.
Chicago researchers have coined this term “metabolic grogginess.” This is the state that your body comes into when it’s sleep deprived.
After four days of getting poor sleep your body’s ability to use insulin becomes disrupted. The hormone insulin is known as your fat storage hormone.
Insulin helps fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from the bloodstream so they aren’t stored in your body. But when you’re not getting that quality sleep your insulin sensitivity can drop more than 30%.
When your body becomes insulin resistant these fats circulating in your bloodstream will end up stored as fat in your body and organs such as your liver.
This is a nutshell to how you become overweight and obese. Not to mention end up suffering from chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
No Sleep Kills Your Self Control
Take note of the day after you haven’t received enough sleep. You’ll probably find you’re much hungrier than usual.
Not only are you hungry but you also crave high carb sugary foods you know you shouldn’t be eating.
Leptin and ghrelin are the two most important hormones that control your hunger.
The less leptin in your body the more you’re going to feel the pains of hunger.
The more ghrelin in your body the more you will stimulate the feelings of being hungry.
Your body will also reduce the number of calories you burn, which means your metabolism will slow down. This inevitably will cause you to gain more weight.
You need to control both leptin and ghrelin to keep losing weight. As well as keep your hunger levels where they should be.
A study following a thousand people found those who slept for shorter durations had a 14.9% higher levels of ghrelin.
The sleep-deprived participants also had 15.5% lower leptin levels compared to those who were getting enough high quality sleep.
A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found sleeping just six hours or less will trigger the part of your brain telling your body it needs more food.
The study also found not getting enough sleep will lower your leptin levels while increasing your ghrelin levels.
Without enough sleep, you can expect your cortisol levels to rise. Cortisol activates the reward centers in your brain that want more food.
As you can see these hormones are setting you up to eat more and more food.
This combination of low leptin, high ghrelin and cortisol is a deadly combination. It will make you feel less satisfied after a meal and crave more of these high carb sugary foods.
A study in Nature Communications found even just one night of not getting enough sleep could impair your frontal lobe. This is the same area that controls your decision-making.
Not getting enough high-quality sleep will end up making you choose greater portion sizes than you normally would. It’s no wonder why not getting a left sleep will make you gain more and more weight.
No Sleep Screws Up Your Hormones
There’s a deadly cycle that comes with not getting enough sleep and weight gain.
Being obese and overweight can cause you to develop sleep problems. But also sleep problems can contribute to becoming overweight.
A study by Stanford University found sleep-deprived individuals had significantly decreased levels of leptin in their system. Once again, leptin is the satiety hormone as it has a huge role in controlling your appetite.
It will be the hardest time you’ll have resisting junk food When you’re not getting enough sleep. It becomes incredibly difficult to turn it down even though you know you shouldn’t be eating it.
When you’re tired your brain is looking for extra calories to keep everything functioning at a normal level. Your body craves easy calorie-dense foods such as cookies, ice cream, pizza, hamburgers, and burritos.
Essentially, your self-control will eventually be defeated by the survival instincts of your brain and body.
Researchers found sleep deprivation reduced the higher order of functions of the brain. This created an excessive response to the primitive parts of your brain.
Sleep deprivation can cause more brain activity in the amygdala. This is the area associated with the motivation to eat.
The amygdala part of your brain is much more emotional and reactive.
So the next time you find yourself cranky in the mornings it’s because you’re not getting in a sleep. You’ll know your amygdala is firing away at full cylinders.
The sleep-deprived participants who these brain scans were taken from did, in fact, end up making much poorer food choices.
So you’ll not only end up eating more junk food, but you’ll also have a harder time cognitively.
Don’t Eat Too Soon Before Bed
Research by Deakin University in Australia found after eating a large meal caused overweight participants to produce higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Even healthy people showed a 5% increase in cortisol levels right after consuming a meal. The cortisol levels of overweight in obese individuals could increase by 51% after the meal.
When you have high cortisol levels it also means you have high blood sugar, lower insulin sensitivity and increased levels of inflammation.
Cortisol is the anti-sleep hormone. Cortisol at any given time of the day is hard on your body and can disrupt normal functioning.
The lesson here is to try to not have your big meal so close to your bedtime. Many skip eating large meals during the day out of busyness, but by the time dinner comes they’re starving. It becomes easy to overeat.
This causes your body to release cortisol and inevitably disrupting your sleep patterns. Not getting enough sleep can cause you to have higher cortisol levels the next evening.
Give your body at least 90 minutes to properly digest the food after a large meal.
Or else you’ll end up waking up in the middle of the night when your blood sugar crashes. It will be much harder to fall back asleep too.
No Sleep Destroys Your Metabolism
Not getting enough high quality of sleep can disrupt your metabolism and kill your weight loss. This can happen even though you’re following your diet and workouts.
It can be frustrating to not lose any weight even if you’re counting calories, working out hard and eating all the right foods.
Your body will not only have a reduction in insulin sensitivity, but you also experience changes in your gut flora without enough high-quality sleep.
There are numerous studies finding a link with the health of your gut and weight loss.
You can find the best gut healing foods here.
Not getting enough sleep also can affect the levels of inflammation in your body. This study found getting five hours of sleep or even going to bed at the wrong time can increase the markers of inflammation.
Your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is how many calories your body burns more rest. This study found sleep deprivation can actually lower how many calories your body is burning at any given moment.
Another study kept participants awake for 24 hours. Afterward, they found their RMR was 5% lower than the night before.
The researchers also found their metabolic rate right after eating was 20% lower. You can see just how bad losing sleep is for your metabolism.
You’d be surprised to know that you can even lose muscle with lack of sleep.
This study of 10 overweight individuals found the participants with only 5.5 hours of sleep lost less weight from fat. They were losing weight from their muscle when they should be losing it from fat.
No Sleep Sabotages Your Workouts
How many times have you skipped your workout because you were too tired and exhausted from not sleeping enough the night before?
It’s very important to have enough muscle in your body for weight loss. Muscle helps you burn fat and protects you against the aging process.
Losing sleep will give you enough daytime fatigue to make it that much harder for you to want to exercise.
You also find yourself much likelier to get tired earlier in your workouts. This will cause you to not push yourself hard enough or long enough.
This study followed basketball players in college who would spend 10 hours in bed each night. At the end of the study, the players became faster, had improved reaction times, had higher accuracy levels and were also less fatigued.
The more sleep you have the more a decrease in proteins synthesis you have. This means you have an impacted ability for your body to make muscle, and could even lose some.
Losing muscle can impair your metabolism and lead to higher injuries. This study found losing 20 pounds of muscle can result in the lowering of your RMR by 100 calories a day.
Lack of sleep can cause your body to have a harder time recovering from your workouts.
Not getting enough sleep can increase the hormone cortisol which will also slow down the production of growth hormone in your body.
Tips For Sleep and Weight Loss
Fortunately there are some easy ways you can increase your quality of sleep so you can lose weight.
Here are some sleep and weight loss tips you can use immediately:
- Try to get more sunlight in the day as it’ll help set your circadian rhythms
- avoid screens before bedtime (TV, phone, tablet, computer)
- if you do then try using the “Night Shift” mode
- cut off caffeine in the early afternoon
- don’t drink alcohol at night
- keep your bed room cool at around 68-72 degrees
- get to bed at the right time (before 10)
- I recommend using the best CBD oil here to improve your sleep quality
- blackout your entire bedroom (any little artificial light can disrupt your sleep quality)
- workout hard during the day
- have a bedtime routine
- set your bedtime alarm clock
- Try using Instant Melatonin Spray for stronger and faster sleep
Can you lose weight by sleeping?
Yes your body better be able to burn fat and lose weight when you’re getting enough sleep. On the other hand if you’re not getting enough sleep then you’ll be putting on more weight. So making sure you’re getting the required sleep per night is very important in the weight loss process.
How much sleep do you need to lose weight?
That depends on your own personal requirements but most people require 7-8 hours per night. Women tend to need a little more sleep than men do but you should record how much sleep you had after a restful night and try to maintain that number every night when you sleep.
The Last Word
With all the evidence above its clear sleep is as important for weight loss as dieting and exercise.
It will be hard to lose weight if you’re not getting enough sleep even if you have the best diet and exercise program in the world.
Making your sleep a priority is of the utmost importance. Turning off the TV and not drinking that glass of wine will help you tremendously.
I know it can be hard to get high-quality sleep all the time but there are always ways you can improve it.
Getting sleep is an investment in not only losing weight but in your overall health. It’s the precious time our bodies need to recover. It’s something that shouldn’t be neglected.
Use the above strategies to improve your quality of sleep so you can keep losing weight.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.