One of the basic premises of Healthy Enough is to simplify the highly complex world of nutrition and exercise in order to help you understand that becoming healthier doesn’t have to be so darn complicated.
There are literally thousands of different diets, programs, and products that are specifically designed to help you lose weight, which can be extremely confusing to navigate through to determine what works and what doesn’t.
There are so many different ways to lose weight that it can be overwhelming. But fortunately there is one variable that does not change and is the easiest for you to control. Your sleep.
The Importance of Hormones in Weight Loss
Believe it or not, sleep plays a major role in your ability to lose weight.
Here’s why: sleep affects the levels of several hormones in your body, including leptin and ghrelin. Each plays an important role in stimulating and suppressing your appetite.
Leptin is responsible for suppressing hunger, while ghrelin stimulates your appetite. A decrease in sleep lowers the levels of leptin in your blood and increases the levels of ghrelin, which results in an increase in appetite.
Another problem associated with a lack of sleep is an increase in cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that works to break down body tissues. When you are stressed or sleep deprived, cortisol levels increase because the body is getting ready for the fight or flight response mechanism.
If you’re not sleeping enough, you will also miss out on the critically important Growth Hormone boost that comes each night during deep sleep. When you are asleep, your pituitary gland secretes more growth hormones than when you’re awake.
Growth hormones stimulate cell regeneration, reproduction and growth. These hormones also aid you in building muscle tissue. And the more muscle tissue you have, the faster your metabolism will be. With a faster metabolism, you burn more calories at rest, which leads to easier weight loss.
Sleep’s Effect on Appetite, Exercise, and Recovery
Now that you understand a little about your hormones in relation to sleep and fat loss, let’s look at how a lack of sleep affects your appetite.
Can you recall the last time you got poor night’s sleep? Maybe you were tossing and turning all night, or perhaps you had a bout of insomnia and the next day you were most likely craving carbohydrates like crazy.
Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite, it also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. When you don’t get enough sleep – approximately 7 to 9 hours per night – you feel tired and crave (and often eat) sugar to artificially create energy.
And let’s not forget the fact that if you’re not getting enough sleep, your exercise performance will suffer.
In addition to this, since sleep is the primary time the body recovers from exercise, it’s also when you will be rebuilding your muscle tissue. Without this recovery time, you’re going to go into your next exercise session at a disadvantage. It’s also an easy way to over train your body and end up with an injury.
And weight loss and exercise aside, a lack of sleep is related to a number of more serious health issues such as increased risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
There are also numerous other physiological and psychological benefits from getting enough sleep and just as many drawbacks from not getting enough. So just keep this in mind: more sleep improves everything!
So make sure you get your 7-9 of hours of sleep each night. Not only are you going to feel better, think more clearly and have more energy, but you’ll also be improving your long-term health as well.