How Does Sleep Affect Weight Loss?
20 Jan 2021-
If you’ve resolved to lose weight in the new year, your first instinct is probably to eat healthier and exercise more. That’s a great place to start. But while some sacrifice may be necessary to achieve your goals, you should not surrender sleep. In fact, quality shuteye is critical to shedding pounds and achieving and maintaining wellbeing.
I know the idea of prioritizing sleep might seem counterintuitive to the “rise and grind” mindset we so often associate with fitness. But extensive scientific evidence shows rest has a significant impact on health, including our body’s ability to handle hunger and make good use of the food we eat. Here’s what you need to know.
How Sleep Affects Calorie Consumption
“A sleepy brain is the brain that craves,” said Param Dedhia, M.D., in an interview with SELF. Dedhia, physician and director of sleep medicine at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, explained several neurotransmitters and hormones play a role in regulating hunger. But ghrelin, which increases the appetite, and leptin, which decreases it, are center stage. When you’re tired, your body craves energy. Leptin levels drop, and ghrelin levels increase, resulting in a ferocious appetite as the brain signals you to obtain energy from calories.
To make matters worse, sleep deprivation affects decision-making and impulse control, making it more difficult to resist the temptation to eat unhealthy foods. Research shows exhaustion increases your likelihood to eat more salty, fatty, and sugar foods, specifically.
On average, scientists have found that sleep-deprived people tend to consume nearly 400 more calories per day compared to those who get enough shuteye.
How Sleep Affects Metabolism
Cortisol, the stress hormone, also increases when you’re sleep-deprived. In case you haven’t heard, stress is basically the worst for your health. When it comes to weight, cortisol is detrimental because of its effect on metabolism. It signals the body to hold onto existing fat reserves and store incoming calories as fat too. Excess cortisol can also inhibit insulin, the primary hormone responsible for converting glucose (sugar) into energy. In the short-term, this can increase blood sugar and the calories-to-fat conversion rate. In the long-term, it may increase your risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
How Sleep Affects Exercise
Raise your hand if you’ve ever said you’re “too tired” to work out. We’ve all been there. Even the most devoted among us occasionally have trouble mustering the motivation. But regular exercise is crucial for energy and vitality. Not only that, but it can speed up your metabolism, making it easier to shed unwanted pounds and maintain a healthy weight. We’re not just talking cardio, either. Strength training is a proven-effective way to reduce fat and maintain a healthy, lean physique. But recovery is a vital part of the process, and sleep is a crucial step. Your body produces growth hormones to build and repair muscle, burn fat, and build and maintain bones. Because it releases these hormones when you sleep, your workouts and gains may suffer without adequate shuteye.
What You Can Do to Sleep Better
Just like weight loss, improving sleep is not a one-size-fits-all formula. The first step is to determine why you’re not sleeping well, like stress or anxiety, chronic pain, allergies, asthma, gastric reflux, arthritis, or restless leg syndrome. It may also result from diet or a not-so-great bedtime routine (hint: staying up until 2 a.m. watching YouTube and eating leftover takeout is not great for the brain). You can read some more about the causes of insomnia in this blog post.
Certain tactics, such as establishing a regular bedtime and wakeup routine, and taking supplements like CBD, may be helpful regardless of your reasons for not getting adequate ZZZs.
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CBD, along with its cousin-cannabinoid CBN, can help the body maintain healthy sleep cycles, allowing you to sleep better for longer. They do so by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a vast roadmap of neurotransmitters, receptors, and enzymes responsible for maintaining homeostasis in a range of physical and neurological processes, including metabolism, sleep, appetite, mood, memory, body temperature, immune function, pain sensation, and reproduction. By mimicking the ECS neurotransmitters, certain cannabinoids like CBD and CBN can help it work more effectively.
We still have much to learn about cannabinoids and how they work in the body. But evidence thus far shows great promise. A study of 72 adults, published in The Permanente Journal, found 75 percent of participants experienced better sleep after taking 25 mg of CBD daily. Another study showed a 10-year-old post-traumatic-stress disorder patient slept better when she took 25 mg of CBD at night and 6 to 12 mg of CBD during the day.
In addition to adding CBD to your health regimen, try these tips from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention:
- Set a consistent bedtime and wake-up time and stick to this schedule, even on weekends.
- Create a relaxing environment in your bedroom. Ensure it’s quiet, dark, and a comfortable temperature.
- Keep TVs and computers out of the bedroom and reduce screen time altogether. Ideally, read a book, meditate, or journal in the 30 minutes before bedtime, instead of using your phone or other electronic devices. Screens can disrupt the circadian rhythm and make it harder to get to sleep.
- Exercise every day for at least 30 minutes.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugar, or large, heavy meals before bed.
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