Are you struggling to lose weight? Although many factors can hinder weight loss, one of the sneakier aspects is sleep deprivation.
Research shows people who regularly sleep five hours or less a night can gain as much as two pounds in a week. One study showed women who slept five or fewer hours were more likely to gain about 30 pounds over time compared to women who slept at least seven hours per night. Poor sleepers are also more prone to obesity-related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.
Lack of sleep increases cravings, decreases metabolism.
People who snack more frequently, particularly at night, eat on average an extra 300 calories a day. The sleep-deprived also tend to eat a small breakfast and choose high-carbohydrate snacks, undoubtably for that quick energy fix, both of which lead to blood sugar imbalances and weight gain. Sleep deprivation also prevents you from burning calories efficiently and being tired slows your body’s metabolism.
Sleep deprivation increases hunger and inhibits the ability to feel full.
One of the more profound ways lack of sleep promotes weight gain is by influencing the hormones that control hunger and satiety. For instance, chronic sleep deprivation raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol tells the body it needs more energy to meet the demands of stress, which causes an increase of hunger and cravings.
Lack of sleep also increases grehlin, a hormone that promotes hunger and fat storage. In fact, one study showed that although dieters could lose weight while sleep deprived, they lost about a third of the weight compared to the healthy sleepers. Researchers believe this is due to grehlin’s fat storing actions.
Sleep deprivation also decreases leptin, the satiety hormone that tells you when you’ve had enough to eat. So, in a double whammy, lack of sleep both increases hunger and inhibits the ability to feel full. The result is a natural inclination to eat more, and more frequently. Adding insult to injury is that the body burns most of its calories during REM, the deeply restful stage of sleep when you dream. Unfortunately, weight gain due to sleep deprivation doesn’t only happen slowly over time. Research shows just a few nights of sleep deprivation can pack on pounds.
Lack of sleep promotes insulin resistance.
Not getting enough sleep makes fat cells less sensitive to insulin, the hormone that ushers glucose into cells so they can produce energy. In effect, it makes a person more insulin resistant, which is a stepping-stone to obesity and diabetes. After depriving subjects in their twenties of sleep, researchers said that their fat cells behaved like those of someone 20 years older.