Weight Loss and Sleep

How Sleep Can Affect Weight Loss Goals

Sleep and Weight Loss

Inadequate sleep causes an imbalance in the hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism. Studies have shown that a sleep deprived person is more likely to consume more calories and less able to burn them off.

The hormones which are affected if you are sleep deprived include:

  • Ghrelin – the increase in this hormone stimulates appetite.
  • Leptin – the decrease of leptin means your body doesn’t get the signals that tells you that you are full and to stop eating.
  • Cortisol – the stress hormone, which can spur your appetite.

Metabolism and Sleep

Your metabolism is directly impacted by the amount of sleep you get. If you’re sleep deprived, the body will start to hoard the calories you consume and store them as fat rather than burn them for energy. This creates a situation where you’re burning fewer calories and less fat, making you more prone to weight gain. By sleeping fewer hours at night, you don’t get as much deep REM sleep, which is when the body burns the most calories. Research has also shown that people who manage to lose weight while sleep deprived don’t burn as much fat as those who are well rested. When you only get six hours of sleep, for instance, you cut off the last period of REM sleep, where the body burns the most calories.

Women, Weight Loss and Sleep

The sleep-hormone/weight gain dynamic is more complex for women than men due to monthly hormonal shifts associated with menstruation. A poll from the National Sleep Foundation found that more than 70 percent of menstruating women experience disturbed sleep. The female hormones estrogen and progesterone both have crucial functions in relation to sleep and weight loss. Estrogen increases REM sleep while progesterone, a sleep-promoting hormone, is also known for increasing appetite. The combination of the hormonal fluctuation affects sleep, appetite, and energy levels during each phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

For pre-menopausal women interested in losing weight, here are some simple strategies to improve your sleep and quality of life:

  1. Drink enough water - Drinking more fluids will help the body flush out excess sodium which may reduce bloating and discomfort.
  2. Take calcium supplements - Research has shown that a 1200 milligram daily calcium supplement can reduce PMS symptoms by 50 percent.
  3. Take magnesium supplements - Magnesium increases the body’s production of serotonin, a calming hormone. In combination with calcium, magnesium is a muscle relaxant which can soothe cramps and other physical aches and pains.

Tips for Sleep and Weight Loss

  • Exercise in the morning or afternoon - By working out close to bedtime, you rev up the body, making it more difficult to relax and wind down to sleep.
  • Don’t hit the snooze button - By setting your alarm earlier than you’re actually going to get out of bed, you might be robbing yourself of those extra minutes of REM sleep in which you’re burning calories. Also, it’s a good policy to get enough sleep so that you wake up before your alarm even goes off.
  • Take naps - A 20-30 minute nap followed by a caffeinated beverage can significantly boost your alertness and energy levels during the day. However, make sure not to take naps or have caffeine-containing foods, beverages, or medications at least six hours before bedtime.
  • Limit alcohol - Alcohol may help you get to sleep, but it also fragments your sleep as it metabolizes. Also, the calories in alcohol can sabotage your weight loss efforts. Try to drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you drink, and stop drinking at least three hours before you go to bed.
  • If you are interested in finding out more about sleep and weight loss, call The Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute at 1-855-690-0563 and one of our representatives will be happy to answer any of your questions.