Proper sleep is vital to your overall health and can even help you lose weight and maintain that weight loss. Still, many people do not prioritize good sleep because they feel they are too busy and don’t have enough time. Rest often falls to the bottom of the to-do list, yet incorporating healthy sleep habits can significantly impact your weight. Good sleep can help you manage your appetite, decrease cravings, and lower your risk of certain chronic diseases.
The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours. Sleeping less than 7 hours per night can cause an increase in ghrelin, a hormone that makes you feel hungry. An increase in the amount of ghrelin in your body makes you more likely to overeat. Less than 7 hours of sleep also causes a decrease in the hormone leptin, which helps you feel satisfied. You are more likely to crave foods high in fat and sugar with a lower level of leptin circulating in your body.
Besides affecting your hormones, decreased sleep results in more hours awake, during which you might consume calories. Multiple studies have demonstrated that when people get a restricted amount of sleep, they increase their calorie intake. One study showed that people who decreased their sleep by several hours over 8 days increased their calorie intake by 200-500 calories daily. Those extra hours awake can impact your weight because eating late-night calories and the unhealthy food choices that often occur during that time are associated with weight gain.
Achieving the recommended hours of sleep per night can help you manage your weight and benefit your body in other ways. It can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. At least 7 hours of sleep aids your body in regulating glucose efficiently, which can help manage your blood sugars if you have diabetes. It also helps to decrease your risk of developing other metabolic disorders.
In addition to the number of hours you sleep, the time of day you sleep can also affect your weight. Those who work night shifts are at an increased risk of disrupted sleep and wake cycles. This problem is known as circadian misalignment, a risk factor for becoming overweight or obese.
Even if you do not work night shifts, following a regular sleep schedule is essential. People that sleep at irregular times are more likely to gain weight and have an increase in body fat. If they have diabetes, they also are more likely to see an increase in their A1C.
Tips to Achieve Good Sleep
Sleep is a crucial tool in your weight loss plan. The first step to getting enough good quality sleep is to prioritize it. Whether you sleep at night or during the day because of shift work, here are a few tips to help you get the sleep you need to manage your weight:
- Set a consistent bedtime to get your body ready for sleep.
- Maintain a comfortably cool temperature.
- Make sure the noise level is appropriate. You can use a noise machine to suit your preference.
- Sleep in a dark environment. Too much light can contribute to circadian misalignment.
- Avoid using anything stimulating, such as smartphones or tablets, within an hour of bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine and exercise in the evening if it interferes with your ability to fall asleep.
Your body needs enough sleep to restore itself to function at its best. If you have difficulty getting a full night’s sleep or wake frequently, discuss these concerns with your health care team because many sleep disorders go undiagnosed and untreated. Healthy sleep habits will benefit you in many ways, including helping you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
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