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Not getting enough sleep makes it harder to lose weight. In fact, not sleeping enough and not sleeping well both lead to a person being at a higher risk for developing obesity. While being sleep-deprived will make weight loss more challenging, you don’t have to give up. It helps to understand why not sleeping makes losing harder and to understand how you can improve your sleep.
Sleep and Metabolism
Not getting enough sleep means that your body doesn’t have as much energy from rest. It tries to make up that energy deficit by consuming more calories so that it can keep your energy levels up and still perform at the level you need it to.
Sleep deprivation cues changes in two important hormones that regulate appetite: leptin and ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you that you’re hungry and it’s time to eat. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more ghrelin, so you eat more food.
On the other side, leptin tells your body to stop eating, that your needs are met and your body is satisfied. When you aren’t sleeping enough, your body makes less leptin, so you eat more than you need.
Together, these hormones regulate your eating. They get thrown off when you don’t get enough rest because they are trying to help you get more energy.
Sleep and Impulse Control
As if the metabolic changes that come alongside a lack of sleep weren’t enough, sleep also affects the way your brain works. When you don’t get enough sleep, you have more problems with self-control and impulsivity. This means that not getting enough sleep makes it harder for you to resist the unhealthy foods you sometimes crave.
When you combine this difficulty with impulse control with the metabolic changes mentioned above, it’s easy to see why not sleeping makes it so much harder to lose weight. Your body is telling you to eat more and you don’t have as much ability as usual to say no.
How to Sleep Better
Clearly, getting good sleep is key to making your weight loss journey easier. If sleep is difficult for you, though, it can feel like there’s not much you can do to make things better. However, a few small changes could make a big difference in your sleep.
All of these things should help you sleep better. When you’re getting more sleep, you should find that losing weight is easier than it is when you feel exhausted.
Lisa Hugh, Registered Dietitian.
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