70% of American adults report that they don’t get enough sleep at least one night per month. Many more likely don’t know how much sleep they’re supposed to get. When everyone has a busy and high-stress lifestyle, getting enough rest just isn’t a priority.
Poor sleep can result in serious physical and mental health problems. It can lead to depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and even weight gain. Even so, people just aren’t making time to get a full night of sleep.
We’re here to talk about the connection between sleep and weight loss (as well as sleep and weight gain). Read on to learn more.
How Can a Lack of Sleep Cause Weight Gain?
There are several ways that poor sleep can influence weight gain. Some of them are within your control and others are not.
First, consider what you do when you’re feeling sleepy during the day. To wake yourself up, do you ever have an extra latte? Do you reach for some sugary or salty snacks to wake yourself up?
When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re going to look for anything that can give you more energy. While some people turn to caffeine pills or black coffee, most will reach for something a little more calorie-dense.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t produce enough leptin. Leptin regulates your eating habits. It’s what tells your body when you are full and don’t need to consume any more food to sustain yourself.
In other words, when you’re not sleeping enough, you’re naturally going to be hungrier. Your body isn’t receiving the signal that you’ve eaten enough calories.
Another factor is exercise and overall activity level. If you haven’t been getting enough sleep, it’s likely that you’ve been moving less. When you’re fatigued, you’re not going to want to go to the gym (and if you do, your performance will likely suffer).
Lack of Sleep, Weight Gain, and Cortisol
Research suggests that inadequate sleep can cause your cortisol levels to spike. This effect can last through the following day, and because high cortisol can also cause sleeplessness, the problem becomes cyclical.
Cortisol can increase your appetite and cause your body to hang onto fat (which would be important in survival situations). When it comes to a lack of sleep and belly fat, cortisol is likely a key factor.
Can Sleep Help With Weight Loss?
Getting enough sleep should be a primary focus when you’re trying to lose weight. Yes, a healthy diet and exercise program will also be important, but if you’re not getting enough sleep, you can undo your hard work.
When you get enough sleep, you’ll have the energy to cook healthy meals and stay more active. You’ll likely even take more steps throughout the day even if you don’t have an exercise plan.
You’ll have normal levels of leptin so you’ll feel less inclined to overeat. You’ll also be better at making smart food decisions instead of reaching for a tasty snack.
Poor sleep puts your body in survival mode. When you get enough sleep, you can allocate energy to weight loss.
How to Get More Sleep
Sure, you know that you have to get more sleep, but how can you make that a reality? Many of us lay awake at night unable to sleep, and others simply don’t feel as though they have the time.
Here are a few things that you can do to improve your sleep while you’re getting treatment from your ChiroThin doctor.
Make a Sleep Schedule
This might seem silly, but it’s time to start actually scheduling sleep just as you would work or school. Give yourself a set bedtime and wake-up time and stick to it.
It will be difficult at first. You will lie awake at night waiting to fall asleep. Eventually, your brain will get the memo, and falling asleep will be easier. You’ll start getting drowsy around your scheduled sleeping time.
You should try to stick to your schedule even if you don’t have to be up early the next day, at least while you’re still adjusting.
Avoid Electronics Before Bed
Do you scroll through your phone at night before bed? You’re potentially harming your sleep!
The blue light from your devices can keep your brain awake and alert. The dopamine rush from social media notifications can also keep you awake.
Put your phone away about an hour before bedtime. Instead, read a book or do something else relaxing.
Establish a Nighttime Routine
Speaking of relaxing before bed, take this opportunity to create a soothing nighttime routine. You can get your brain into “sleep mode” while you get ready for bed.
Do things that calm you. Consider adding a soothing skincare routine or yoga. Start winding down about a half-hour before you want to hit the pillow.
If you’re really struggling, you might want to consider medication or supplements to help you sleep.
Many people take melatonin to sleep. It’s safe and effective, and it’s something that your body produces on its own. You’re just helping your body along.
If that’s not enough, there are over-the-counter sleep aids that are safe for short-term use. In serious cases, you may want to talk to a doctor about a heavier-duty sleeping medication.
Avoid Eating Before Bed
Eating before bed isn’t as influential to weight gain as many people think, but it can influence your sleep.
When you eat, your body has to work hard to digest your food before it’s ready to rest. While you might feel sleepy and even fall asleep, the digestion process can stop you from getting deep and restful sleep.
Sleep and Weight Loss: There’s a Connection
The connection between sleep and weight loss (and gain) is clear. If you’re struggling with your weight despite your best efforts, it might mean that you’re not getting enough shut-eye.
If you’ve ever needed more motivation to get your 8-hours, this is it!
Are you ready to get started on the path to a healthier you? Click here to find a ChiroThin doctor in your area