When you push yourself hard and you feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends, you may notice your progress seems to slow down.
This can be strength speed or even fat loss. If you are struggling to move the fat loss in the right direction the solution could actually be having more sleep not less.
According to Dr Charlene Gamaldo a medical doctor at John Hopkins Centre for sleep “you have to prioritise sleep!”
Insufficient sleep can be linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and poor performance. It could also contribute to weight gain.
Research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology followed 68,183 women for 16 years and found that women who slept fewer than six hours per night had a 32% higher risk of gaining significant amounts of weight — 33 pounds (or more) — than those who slept seven hours per night.
1) Lack of sleep interferes with levels of the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin. Research shows that with less sleep the hungrier you’ll feel. One study found that those who slept 4–6 hours per night had higher body mass indexes (BMI) than those who spent 7–9 hours sleeping per night.
Your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, are also higher when you’re exhausted. “Sleep deprivation is a stressed state,” Gamaldo explains. “Your body feels like it needs to hold on to more calories to survive.”
While one or two sleepless nights won’t throw your hormones out of whack, it is notable that regularly spending fewer than six hours per night in dreamland triggers hormonal changes that lead to weight gain.
2) One study found that sleeplessness impaired activity in the frontal lobe, the region responsible for decision making; the reward centres of the brain were activated following one sleepless night and participants showed strong preferences for unhealthy foods like pizza and doughnuts, over fruits and vegetables.
“Your judgment is impacted when you’re sleep deprived,” Gamaldo says. “It’s much harder to resist cravings for calorie-rich foods.”
In fact, a 2016 meta-analysis noted that a lack of sleep led study participants to consume an extra 385 calories per day, which could lead to more than one pound of weight gain per week.
Research about hormones and willpower aside, Gamaldo notes, “There is a very practical aspect to sleep. You cannot sleep and eat at the same time. For every hour you’re sleeping, you’re not eating or snacking.”
Despite the strong connections between sleeplessness and weight gain, more than 35% of adults sleep for fewer than seven hours per night.
To get a better night’s rest try shutting down electronics an hour before bed; maintaining a bedtime routine that could include a warm bath and putting on a favourite pair of pj's; and establishing a regular sleep/wake time.
“If you’re sleeping fewer than six hours per night — that’s the magic number — more than a couple of times a week, there are reasons to be concerned,”
Head to our shop to bag yourself some sleep aids if you are struggling, this could be the key to your success.