Everybody loves a good night of sleep. There’s nothing like climbing into bed, getting under your covers and closing your eyes — finally! We all know sleep is necessary for good health, but do you know just how much it can affect your weight?
Research shows that too many nights with not-enough sleep can start to show on the scale. Your brain relies on rest to restore itself, but so does your body. Without quality shuteye, many organs and functions of your body can take a serious blow.
3 Facts about Sleep You Didn’t Realize
You’re more awake and energized after you’ve slept, but energy isn’t the only bonus. Looking at sleep through a total-body approach, it can influence your weight in many ways. You probably know most of them, but these few are commonly forgotten.
Sleep Can Help You Stop Snacking.
A lack of slumber can cause changes in how your body regulates appetite. Cravings come on a lot easier and tempt you to reach for your favorite goodies. And it’s not crunchy broccoli that you’ll be craving, but high-sugar and high-carb foods (like pizza).
It all has to do with hormones. Sleep deprivation signals your fat cells to produce more Ghrelin, a hormone that signals hunger. At the same time, fullness signals produced by the hormone Leptin are being suppressed. Naturally, you start to eat more.
Allowing enough time for rest can regulate your hormones and help you manage your appetite. If you want to kick your late-night snacking frenzy, try hitting the pillow earlier.
Sleep Can Help You Burn More Calories.
Sleep is like nutrition for your brain. When you don’t get enough of it, your brain defensively triggers the hormone cortisol. Cortisol tells your body, “Hey! I need some fuel!” and causes you to hang on to fat stores as your body struggles to get more energy.
Your metabolism is also affected by the number of hours you spend asleep in bed. Not enough can hamper your body’s ability to process insulin, which changes sugars, starches and other foods into energy. When your body doesn’t respond properly to insulin, fats are hard to process in your bloodstream. They eventually end up stored as fat cells. (yikes!)
When your sleep is adequate, your metabolism is under better control and will help you burn more calories at rest. You’ll also be burning more calories with the extra energy you have!
Sleep Affects Your Decision-making.
When your brain is sleepy, you’re not the best at making decisions. Brain activity in your frontal lobe is actually dulled, causing your impulse control to go a little crazy.
This means that the simplest decisions you make every day, like what to eat for breakfast or how active you’ll be, can stray from normal. Maybe you won’t have egg whites and spinach for breakfast because “Look at that doughnut!” Or, perhaps your normal walk after dinner will turn into lounging on the couch in front of the TV.
To keep your head on your shoulders, make sure your head hits the pillow too.
Tips for Improving Your Shuteye:
- Shut down all electronics at least one hour before you retire to bed.
- Use your bedroom for relaxing, not work or chores.
- Make a sleep schedule and try your best to stick to it.
- Keep your room at a temperature you find relaxing.
- Turn off bright lights in and around your bedroom.
- Avoid caffeinated foods and drinks around bedtime.
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