You’ve been doing everything right – you’re a regular at the gym, you watch what you eat and drink, but the scale somehow doesn’t want to move and stay where you’d want it. Don’t go giving up just yet, thinking it’s been all for naught – there may be one more thing you have overlooked.
Let’s start from the beginning. You know your ideal weight and you started acting on it. Maybe you consulted specialists who suggested the kind of exercises you should be doing along with a diet tailored to your needs. Now, everything you need to do is keep the routine and wait for the results.
So you keep waiting. And waiting.
But before you throw in the towel, there’s one more thing you can do – look into your sleeping routine.
Multiple forces are responsible for gaining (or not losing) weight. Since you’ve ruled the two biggest ones out by exercising and eating right, it’s time to get more acquainted with sleep deprivation and all of its consequences.
In the case of our weights, two crucial hormones are in play: leptin and ghrelin. When your body gets the sleep it needs, the secretion of both hormones is in check. But as soon as you cut into sleep, your hormones are thrown out of whack.
This is how it works. Leptin tells you “You’re not hungry.” When leptin levels are high, you don’t feel the urge to eat. Ghrelin, on the other hand, says “You’re hungry. Eat something now!”
Deprive yourself of sleep and leptin levels will drop while ghrelin levels will increase. Can you see where this is going? Your body will now receive the signals to eat more, and will not know when to stop.
“There is rapidly accumulating evidence from both laboratory and epidemiological studies to indicate that chronic partial sleep loss may increase the risk of obesity and weight gain.” – says professor Eve Van Cauter from the University of Chicago.
Scientists even conducted a study to measure how lack of sleep impacts our appetite. 11 healthy volunteers were invited to spend 14 nights in a sleep lab. They slept for 5.5 or 8.5 hours and had unlimited access to meals and snacks. The results were interesting, to say the least. The participants who were sleep deprived, not only ate more, but also reached for high carb foods, which can be detrimental to losing weight.
As it turns out, after not enough sleep, you’ll eat up to 300 extra calories. Multiply that by the number of days you were sleep deprived, and there’s your formula on how to fight those extra pounds.
Get a full night’s sleep – at least 7 hours a night and try to make a habit out of it. We know we all would like to squeeze a bit more out of our days and sleep may seem like a waste, but that’s one of the biggest fallacies of our times. So when trying to lose weight, remember a quote of Prof. Van Cauter I found in Matthew Walker’s book “Why we sleep” – “a sleep-deprived body will cry famine in the midst of plenty.”