It is no secret that getting an adequate amount of sleep is good for us. However, it is starting to look like not getting enough sleep can be detrimental as well, particularly if you are trying to lose a few pounds. Research has proven that not getting enough sleep can hinder weight loss efforts, but a new study by researchers at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital and published in the journal SLEEP, suggests that men’s and women’s weight is affected differently by inadequate sleep.
This study looked at 27 men and women between 30 and 45 years of age. All were of normal weight and all had their blood drawn before the test started. One group was then given a full nine hours of rest. The other was allotted a measly four hours. Afterwards, their blood was tested again.
The main findings from the study indicated that a lack of sleep has different effects on men and women. The women who did not sleep enough had less of the hormone GLP-1 in their system, whereas sleep-deprived men had higher levels of ghrelin.
GLP-1… ghrelin… huh? Both of these hormones affect how we eat in different ways. GLP-1 affects satiety, or the feeling of fullness that lets us know that it is time to stop eating. Ghrelin, on the other hand, affects appetite. If you have too much of it you will want to keep eating, even if you are not technically hungry. Therefore, women who do not get enough sleep have trouble feeling full, while men who undersleep have a bigger appetite.
According to the researchers who conducted this study, "Partial sleep deprivation may inﬂuence appetitive hormones, such as ghrelin and leptin, that aid in the regulation of appetite and body weight. Because weight loss also produces alterations in ghrelin and leptin to increase hunger, this may be compounded by the effects of partial sleep deprivation." In other words, lack of sleep affects the same hormones that are affected by dieting. Restricting your food intake and your time sleeping will give you a double dose of hunger.
Getting More Sleep
Looking at these findings, it’s pretty clear that if you are interested in losing weight it is absolutely crucial that you get enough sleep. If you are cutting back on your caloric intake, your ghrelin and leptin levels are already shifting. Missing out on sleep compounds these changes, making it doubly difficult to meet your weight loss goals.
While this may sounds like a losing scenario all around, there are some things you can do to make sure that you get enough sleep. Read on for a few tips to make sure you are getting the rest you need.
• Make time for sleep: One of the biggest reasons so many people lack sleep is because they feel they do not have time for it. If you are so busy that you can’t carve out seven or eight hours a night for sleeping, then it’s time to reconsider your priorities. Cut out unnecessary activities until you have the time you need to take care of yourself.
• Make it a good sleep: You may be putting in eight hours a night, but that does not mean that you are getting a good rest. Many people take a while to fall asleep or wake up during the night. Caffeine is a huge contributor to poor quality sleep. Getting rid of that afternoon coffee may be a good idea. The same goes for watching TV or using your phone or laptop in bed. The light from these devices wakes up our brain, making it difficult to drift off.
• Make your bedroom a restful place: A cramped, cluttered bedroom with too much light and sound is not a restful place to be. Invest in some heavy shades if you have too much light outside your window. A white noise machine can do wonders in helping you block out jarring noises. Lastly, keep your bedroom neat and free of anything that may cause stress (like that report you are supposed to be writing for work tomorrow). If you feel relaxed in your room you will sleep much better.
The connection between sleep and weight only gets stronger as time goes by. Whether you are looking to lose weight or are just interested in living a more healthy life, adequate sleep is essential. If you do not like the number you see on the scale then maybe it’s time to hit the hay!