Whenever you think of the term “weight loss” you probably think of high protein diets, cutting out unhealthy foods, and exercise. You almost never think of sleep as something that could help out though. The amount of sleep you get directly affects your diet, stress levels, energy levels and so many other things that have a direct impact on your ability to live a healthier lifestyle.
So why is sleep so important when you’re trying to lose weight? Well, let’s take a look!
When we sleep, our body is able to repair itself (incredible right?). If you are exercising for weight loss, chances are that you may be engaging in high intensity exercise and working your body extra hard. So, giving your body that time to fully heal and repair itself allows your body to return to its peak levels when you wake up the next morning.
Sleep has a direct impact on fat loss and muscle building because sleep increases the muscle building hormones in your body. Hormones like testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor-1. These hormones are crucial for optimal repair, recovery, and growth. If you are depriving your body of sleep, this can slow the release of these hormones and ultimately slow your ability to recover and grow at an optimal rate.
People who consistently get less than six hours of sleep have also shown higher levels of glucose and insulin. They also show characteristics similar to those with diabetes, even if they are otherwise pretty healthy. These characteristics can be seen as your fat cells losing their ability to properly use insulin, and when your body becomes resistant to insulin it starts to produce more in order to function. This can then lead to fat build up, and could eventually lead to the actual diagnosis of diabetes.
We all remember those late nights in college when you were studying for an exam coming up the next day, and suddenly ordering pizza at midnight sounds like the way to go. While an occasional midnight pizza won’t hurt you, if you are constantly depriving your body of sleep your levels of ghrelin and leptin start to get inconsistent. Ghrelin is the hormone that is associated to hunger. It's the hormone that tells your brain that you are hungry and that it’s time to eat. Leptin is a hormone that tells your body when it’s full and it’s had enough to eat. When you don’t get enough sleep, your ghrelin levels increase while your leptin levels are decreased. This means that you’re more likely to feel hungrier than usual, and that you’ll be less satisfied from the foods that you eat— making it the perfect combination for overeating and cheating on your diet.
In order to lose weight, exercise is a key component. However, the last thing that you want to do when you’re tired is workout. Not only does a lack of sleep stunt our energy levels, but it also reduces our strength and endurance levels. This means when you’re sleep deprived you’re also way less likely to even make it to the gym.
This goes hand-in-hand with your workout ability being affected by sleep loss, because when sleep deprived, you are also more likely to become susceptible to injuries. Sleep deprivation reduces your mental alertness, cognition, and focus. This can lead to poor form which can be dangerous if you’re lifting heavy weights. It also lowers your immune system and increases the levels of inflammation in your body, which halts your body's ability to recover if you are injured or ill.
If you’re decreasing the amount of sleep you get, it’s probably because you have a lot going on. Personally, we’ve never heard of anyone decreasing their amount of sleep on purpose but to each their own. Whenever you’re stressed you’re less likely to have a firm grip over your appetite. Cortisol is commonly produced more when you are stressed, and this hormone triggers the reward center in your brain which can make you crave certain foods. This is why we all turn to comfort food in times of stress.
Getting a proper amount of sleep helps refresh your mind and your decision making abilities. So, if you’ve ever heard the term “sleep on it and get back to me”, that's where it came from. When you’re exhausted, you're more likely to make decisions that you may not usually make. This can mean hitting the fast food drive thru, or reaching for foods that are higher in sodium and sugar, even if you are someone who would generally choose a healthier alternative.
Not getting enough rest can clearly impact your ability to lose weight and build muscle. That being said, we understand that it can be difficult to get enough sleep every night. Between work, family, and all the other responsibilities that contribute to living a healthy lifestyle, sleep can be pushed on the back burner. Be that as it may, if you really are wanting to make your health a priority, sleep needs to be included in the essentials.
At The Fitness Specialists, we want to help you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle. That journey often includes exercise, and we offer a variety of exercise equipment that is perfect for your home or your commercial gym.
Contact us today to speak with one of our experienced representatives, or stop by in store at either our Lubbock or Odessa locations.