How Does Sleep Help You to Maintain a Healthy Weight?

Rohit, a young entrepreneur, had spent many years dedicated to working while being negligent of his health. On his 28th birthday, he had made up his mind to cut down his excess weight and gift himself better health.

He began to maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise but there was no difference visible even after a few months! He found no fault in his methods and so, decided to visit his physician. Surprisingly, he got to know that poor sleep was the culprit. The doctor notified, “Getting adequate sleep plays an equally important role in losing weight as a healthy diet and exercise do!”

Yes, if you are looking for a healthy way to lose weight, opt for all the three components – a balanced diet, proper exercise and adequate sleep; and make it a routine. Now, what do we mean by adequate sleep? Adequate sleep is nothing but feeding your sleep need. Remember, sleep need differs for person to person depending majorly on age, work-pressure, physical and mental conditions, gender and sometimes season. So, it is highly important to know how much sleep your body needs.

On the other hand, several studies found that poor sleep is associated with weight gain and obesity in both adults and children.

How can poor sleep be responsible for your unhealthy weight gain?

Majorly in three ways -

  1. Poor sleep can make you feel more hungry –

Studies reveal that sleep-starved people tend to feel hungry and consume more energy than those who get adequate sleep. Now, if you keep on consuming food and calories, it will really be difficult to lose weight no matter how much you are willing to. Science says, you cannot control your hunger through your willpower. It is controlled by two hormones - Leptin and Ghrelin.

Our body produces Leptin in our fat cells. This hormone signals our brain that our stomach is full and, as a result, we don’t crave for food anymore. On the contrary, body also produces Ghrelin that increases our appetite. Lack of sleep disrupts the secretions of these two hormones, our brain responds differently and increases our cravings for food causing weight gain.

Research published in the ‘Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism’ found that if an adult sleeps less than six hours, it triggers the area of his brain that increases the cravings for food lowering the Leptin level and stimulating Ghrelin.

  1. Poor sleep can make you lethargic and decrease your metabolic rate –

Sleepy people mostly complain that they feel lethargic, lack of energy to exercise and finally cut down their gym time. The more you skip exercise, the fewer calories you burn and the more fat you tend to store in your body.

It is also found in several studies that lack of sleep slows down the metabolism. The slower your metabolic rate is, the fewer calories you will burn and it does affect the weight loss.

Poor sleep decreases the resting metabolic rate (RMR) also in our body. Resting metabolic rate is the amount of calories your body burns when you take rest. It varies from person to person depending on age, height, weight, gender and muscle mass. But, through different studies, researchers found that lack of sleep may decrease this metabolic rate and affect weight loss.

  1. Sleep deprivation disrupts the production of insulin and may make your cells insulin resistant –

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It allows your body to control blood glucose levels by signalling the cells of liver, muscle and fat cells to take in glucose from the blood.

A study by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center shows that “a single night of sleep deprivation can cause as much insulin resistance as six months on a high-fat diet.”

When your cells become insulin resistant, more glucose remains in the blood and your pancreas produces more insulin to compensate. As a result, you feel more tired and hungry more often than you are supposed to be and opt for more calories.

Apart from all of this, lack of sleep also heightens the stress level, disrupts most the hormonal secretions and may disrupt the digestion. So, better make a thumb rule to follow a proper diet, feed your sleep need regularly and exercise to cut down your excess weight and live a better life.