How important sleep is for weight loss? It might be the most important single thing. Why? I will explain to you.
You have been dieting and doing everything you can but still not able to lose weight?
You might not know how important sleep is for weight loss. It is a problem that many people are not realizing when you need to do everything and basically don’t have time to sleep more. Sleeping too little could be a reason why you are not losing weight. If you sleep less than 7 hours on average per night, please read this article carefully.
Let me explain.
Before we get started I want to introduce myself, my name is Turo and I am an Online weight loss coach. I have been lucky to help hundreds of people struggling with exactly these same problems you might struggle with.
When you sleep too little, you will gain weight.
For several reasons, first there are two hormones Leptin and Ghrelin.
Leptin is a hormone that signals to your body feeling full. In short, when you have a lot of leptin going through your blood, you have less appetite and you don’t want to eat your fridge empty.
Ghrelin is working opposite, the more ghrelin you have, the more you want to eat something.
If you don’t have a good balance with these hormones, you could end up eating more. When you eat more calories than your body needs, you will gain weight.
It has been scientifically proven with tests (Van Cauter) where people slept just 5 hours at night and with same conditions and activity 8 hours, people were more hungry and eating a lot more when they slept 5 hours. Reason behind this behavior is its hormones. If you sleep too little, you have less leptin and more ghrelin. It is like a double effect, you will feel less “I am full” and more “I am hungry” at the same time. These effects started already on the 2nd day of this experiment.
Same experiment showed that when people could choose all foods they wanted, people who slept only 5 hours, were eating on average 300 Kcal more than people who slept at least 7.5 hours per night.
Why is sleep important for weight loss?
Sleep deprivation can cause a 5-20 % change in metabolism. Depending on your weight and activity that could mean 200-500 calories in a day.
If you sleep normally only 5-6 hours per night, all these effects eating a bit more on days you don’t sleep enough, you will end up eating during one year 70.000 calories more, which causes 4-7 kilo weight gain. Every year.
Why are your cravings for sweets higher when you sleep less?
When you sleep too little, your body produces more endocannabinoids, which your body is producing. It is working like cannabis or marihuana, which is used as medicine or drug. That will increase your appetite and cravings for sweets.
When you combine that raise of endocannabinoids with changes of hormone levels of Leptin and Ghrelin which is caused by lack of sleep, you have a mixture ready which are all leading to overeating.
Are you burning calories when you sleep?
You might ask if you burn more calories when you are awake compared when you are sleeping.
Unfortunately that is not true.
Tests that have been made to compare the amount of calories when you are sleeping 8 hours or if you are awake 24 hours show that there was a difference of only 147 calories.
It has been proven that sleeping is actually a very good thing for your metabolism for your brain and body. Theory that you are sleeping to save energy has been disproved.
Amount you need more calories when staying awake is nothing compared to life-threatening risks for not sleeping.
Important to notice is that the longer you are awake, the more time you have time to eat and will feel more hunger. Less you sleep, less energized you will be and the coach is a more attractive option than moving more.
Lack of sleep leads to you not actually moving more, you will end up eating more and less energized you will be. In short, more calories in, less calories out.
Food choices when you sleep too less
It doesn’t always mean that you only eat more but also food choices you make tend to be higher in calories and small amounts like sweets, crackers, bread. Research shows that people who are sleeping too little, are eating 35-40% more of these foods but only 10-15% more healthy foods like proteins.
Why do you want to eat more “unhealthy” foods when you are sleeping too less?
It has been proven in several tests that there are changes in your brain when you haven’t slept enough and when people were asked to eat more, people who were suffering from lack of sleep, chose more often high calorie options. People who were suffering lack of sleep were eating on average 600 Kcal per day more.
Sleep is helping for weight loss
Good news is that even one night is fixing a part of your brain that is controlling your appetite. Sleeping enough could fix that problem in your brain and you are able to say no for cake.
Not only your brain but also your intestinal is working better when you sleep enough. Your body is able to absorb all foods better and take all minerals from food that you need.
Lack of sleep is not the only reason why so many people are overweight. Eating too much processed food, larger portions and less movement are other reasons but sleep is most likely the most important reason.
It all starts when you are a small child. It has been proven that 3-year old children who are sleeping 10.5 hours at night, have 45% higher chance to be overweight at age of 7 than those who are sleeping 12 hours.
Sleep for weight loss
There was an interesting test where 2 groups were on a low calorie diet. Other group was sleeping 5.5 hours per night and the other full 8 hours. Surprisingly, the group who slept 5.5 hours lost 70% of weight from muscles and not from fat. Another group who slept 8 hours, lost over 50% from their fat. If you want to lose your fat and not muscles, you better sleep more.
If you are not sleeping enough, your body doesn’t want to lose fat, it is rather losing muscles.
Short night sleep will
Raise your hunger, appetite and high calorie food consumption, reduce feeling satisfied after meals and prevent effects of weight loss what you are trying to get when eating better.