Frequent exercise and a healthy diet are key elements in most weight loss programs. However, making sure that you get enough sleep is often overlooked. Recent research has shown that sleep plays an important role in weight management. People who sleep enough have lower BMI indexes than people who don’t. The data also suggests that sleep deprivation can cause weight gain. Let’s take a look at some of the contributing factors that link sleep with weight loss:
Leptin and Ghrelin
Sleep affects the levels of several hormones in your body. Two hormones that play an important role in stimulating and suppressing your appetite are leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is produced by your body’s fat cells and is responsible for suppressing hunger. Ghrelin is released by your stomach, and stimulates your appetite. Lack of sleep lowers the levels of leptin in your blood and heightens the levels of ghrelin, which results in an increase of appetite. The reverse is also true: getting enough sleep decreases hunger and will therefore help you lose weight.
During sleep, your pituitary gland secretes more growth hormones than during your waking hours. Growth hormones stimulate cell regeneration, reproduction and growth. These hormones are also known to aid you in building muscles. This is why higher levels of growth hormones means a heightened metabolism. With a higher metabolism, you burn energy much faster which leads to easier weight loss.
Getting eight hours of sleep at night helps you lower the cortisol levels in your blood, while lack of sleep raises your cortisol levels. Higher levels of cortisol lead to a lower metabolism. Breaking protein down into glucose is stimulated by cortisol. If you have too much glucose in your body, it will get stored as fat. On top of this, cortisol interferes with your body’s ability to build muscle mass. If you are trying to lose weight, you want to make sure that you have low cortisol levels in your blood. Getting enough sleep helps you do just that.
Rest and Recovery
Exercising regularly is a great way to improve your fitness and shed some pounds. When you exercise, you tire your body and actually inflict small injuries to your muscles. To improve your performance, you have to allow your body to heal. During sleep, your body recuperates the quickest. When you do not sleep enough, you will stay fatigued and your performance level will drop. Sleeping enough will allow your body to rest, recover and grow stronger.
Sleep is a crucial factor in losing weight. Sleep suppresses your appetite and raises your metabolism, while allowing your body to rest and recover. So aside from leading an active lifestyle and maintaining a balanced diet, you should also make sure that you get your full eight hours of shuteye every night.