We all know that good nutrition and exercise are vital components for weight loss but many forget one other crucial factor that has been shown to help shift the kilos and maintain a healthy weight – sleep!
Getting a good night sleep is an important part of any weight loss regime but it is often forgotten about and not factored in with the other lifestyle changes necessary for weight loss.
One of the largest studies investigating the effects of sleep on weight loss involved nearly 70,000 women and compared those that slept regularly for 7 hours per night and those that got 5 hours of shut eye each night. Those without regular good-quality sleeping patterns were 30% more likely to gain 15kg over the 16 year period. Researchers added that women with the least amount of sleep were at a higher risk of becoming overweight. A good night’s sleep was considered at least 7 hours each night.
A smaller study looked at 92 healthy adults during periods of restricted and unrestricted sleep. Those who were restricted to 4 hours of sleep per night gained 1.5kg over the 11 day study period.
Researchers believe the restricted sleep could influence the hormone ghrelin which plays a role in hunger and appetite. Ghrelin is produced in the stomach, an increase in ghrelin causes an increase in hunger. Irregular sleeping patterns can wreak havoc on ghrelin levels. Researchers found that ghrelin levels were 15% higher in people who had 5 hours sleep compared to those who got 8.
Leptin is another important hormone in appetite regulation. High levels of this hormone let you know that you are full and have had enough to eat. People with minimal shut eye have been found to have increased ghrelin and decreased leptin which equals a lot of hunger and overconsumption. It only takes a few days of restricted sleep for these hormones to be disrupted.
So how much sleep is enough? Some sleep experts say 7-8 hours while others argue that it’s not the number that’s important but the quality of sleep and how you feel when you wake up. Not only can lack of sleep effect hormones but it can result in lack of energy, lack of exercise, lack of motivation and poor food choices which all contribute to weight gain.
In addition to good nutrition and exercise make sure you factor in regular good quality sleep to lose or maintain a healthy weight.
You snooze you lose!