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When you are trying to lose weight, there are certain things you know you should do. You give up on sugar and junk foods in favor of eating more vegetables, lean protein and complex carbohydrates. You hit the gym regularly and try to move as much as possible throughout the day. What you may not realize, though, is that getting enough sleep is a very important part of losing weight.
The amount of sleep you get directly affects your diet. People who are sleep deprived tend to weigh more and have more trouble losing weight than those who get adequate rest, even when they follow the same diet. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body over produces the hunger causing hormones leptin and ghrelin. You could be more susceptible to overeating, while at the same time being less satisfied afterward.
People who consistently get less than six hours of sleep also show glucose and insulin levels and characteristics similar to diabetics, even if they are otherwise very healthy. Your fat cells lose their ability to properly use insulin. As your body becomes more resistant to insulin, it will produce more and more in order to function. This leads to fat buildup and could eventually lead to diseases like diabetes.
Not getting enough sleep also makes your more stressed out, which in turn makes it more difficult for you to control your appetite. A sleep-deprived body will produce more of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol triggers the reward center in your brain and makes you crave food. The combination of more cortisol and more ghrelin mean that you’ll need to eat more food than you normally would in order to feel satisfied.
Lack of sleep can also lead you to crave more sugary or salty foods and make you less likely to be able to say no to unhealthy treats. Sleeping helps refresh your mind and your decision-making processes. Exhaustion reduces your mental clarity and judgment, so you’re more likely to reach for that donut in the office when you’d normally have a piece of fruit.
Not getting enough rest can also severely impact your time at the gym. Your body and muscles need time to repair while you sleep so you can push yourself the next day. You produces the most growth hormone while you’re sleeping, which helps burn fat as well as repair and build muscles so you can increase strength and lose weight. Not to mention, if you’re exhausted, you’re much more likely to skip the gym. Even if you do make it out, you won’t have the energy to train to the best of your ability. A decent night’s sleep will help keep you energized and motivated through your workout.
It can be difficult to get enough sleep every night. Between work, family, responsibilities, planning and cooking healthy meals and consistent exercise, sleep can get put on the backburner. But if you really want to be healthy and lose weight, make your nightly shuteye a priority.