You’ve got a solid healthy diet plan carved out, plastered on your fridge door as a reminder. That gym membership has also been put to good use as of late. You feel like you are on the right track and yet, for some reason, you’re still struggling to get that well-toned body. Surely something has got to give by now, you think. Have you considered that perhaps it might be down to how much sleep you have been getting? Getting the right amount of sleep is more than just about being able to stay productive at work. When you sleep, your body still works in the background in a variety of ways, including mechanisms that are involved in weight maintenance. Here are some ways where your sleep schedule may be hurting your figure.
Sleep Is Closely Linked With Appetite And Satiety
Weight loss is all about the hormonal levels and sleep deprivation can throw all that off balance. When you don’t get enough sleep, it triggers an increase in the production of ghrelin and lower levels of leptin. Ghrelin is a hormone that triggers hunger, and more of it in your bloodstream means that the less sleep you get, the hungrier you may tend to feel. That is, in your waking moments, ghrelin may make you end up eating far more than your body needs. Meanwhile, the hormone leptin does the opposite by signalling fullness and satiety to your brain. As if hunger isn’t bad enough, you may not be able to feel full as quickly as a healthy adult should. That’s how sleep deprivation may end up killing your weight loss progress. You may be more tempted to snack in between the meals you’ve planned, or indulge in larger portions than you need.
Don’t get all excited and sleep way too much either, though. This doesn’t mean that more sleep will magically lead to accelerated weight loss by causing a reverse in the production of ghrelin and leptin. Numerous studies have shown that excessive sleep is just as intricately linked with obesity as sleep deprivation. One of these studies found that people who consistently sleep over nine hours on average are more likely to grow obese than those who stay in the sweet spot of seven to eight hours of sleep. Furthermore, excessive sleep also leads to a higher incidence of diabetes, which may also result in weight gain. Therefore, always aim to get just the right amount of sleep for your age group instead of veering off to either end of the spectrum.
Sleep Deprivation, Stress, Mental Health, And Weight Gain
Everyone knows how intricately linked sleep is with stress. You know the feeling when you start getting stretched thin after even one night of poor sleep, if you get a single hour of it at all. But mood is not the only thing that gets affected by lack of sleep either. The links between sleep and mood are interconnected with each other, so much so that you can hardly tell which comes first at times. Increased stress levels can keep you from getting enough sleep, while lack of sleep can compound the former. As a consequence, cortisol levels also increase in your bloodstream, which can accelerate fat production in your body, and eventually hurt your figure over time. Some people may also find that they tend to eat much more than they should as a means of coping with stress, which naturally leads their bodies to convert excess energy into fat as well.
This intricate link between stress and sleep quality can be felt even more keenly among those who suffer from depression, which, in turn, may also translate to weight gain and obesity. Research also showed that people who suffer from depression tend to put on weight more rapidly than their healthier counterparts. Worse still, their waists tend to get the brunt of it, which can be an indication of much worse than a dent in their ideal figure. People with more fat that accumulates around their waist are typically at greater risk of heart disease, high blood pressure as well as type 2 diabetes. If you find that this sounds a lot like you, please talk to someone about this and strongly consider seeking professional treatment. In many ways, your mental health can hurt more than just your figure and you deserve better.
If that number doesn’t seem to be going down, pause for a moment and reflect on how much sleep you’ve been getting. It may be all too easy to overlook the importance of sleep and its link with weight gain. You may not even realise how much you’ve been indulging in excessive snacking to help you cope, even if you turn to healthier, more nutrient-dense options. Please do remember that there are plenty of avenues from where you could seek help as well.