Can being sleep deprived cause you to gain weight? Yes! Many people don't realize the many health implications of sleep deprivation. It may even be hindering your fat loss efforts.
How does sleep (or sleep deprivation) affect your weight loss efforts?
Here are just a few reasons why sleeping may be the missing link to your weight loss efforts:
1. When you're tired, it is so much harder to make healthy choices. I'm not sure if this is more about psychology or physiology or a combination of both. However, I know I have experienced it firsthand. When I get a good night's sleep, sticking to my regular exercise and healthy eating routine is a cinch. But when I'm sleep deprived, I somehow think that chocolate and sugar will make me feel better. The truth is, it never does! It actually makes me feel worse. Much worse, because the blood sugar highs and lows makes me more tired and cranky than before I ate the sweets.
2. Now for some science. Researchers from several separate studies have found a link between sleep and the hormones that influence our eating behavior. Two specific hormones are involved. Ghrelin is responsible for feelings of hunger. Leptin tells the brain when it's time to stop. When you're sleep deprived, your ghrelin levels increase at the same time that your leptin levels decrease. The result is an increased craving for food and not feeling full (a hormone disaster as far as staying on track with a healthy eating plan). Nothing is worse than craving food and being hungry at the same time.
3. Many people don't know this, but your body adjusts itself based on your circadian rhythms and the amount of sunlight outside. Without getting too deep into the science, these rhythms and light tell your body to physically recover approximately between the hours of 10pm-2am and to mentally recover approximately between 2am-6am. If you aren't getting to bed until 12am, you are missing out on 2 crucial hours of physical repair. This can result in all sorts of aches and pains that do not get better, no matter what you try. I have seen clients relieve bad backs and aching joints by just getting to bed by 10pm. I have even seen people get smarter by sleeping til 6am (ok, I made this last statement up but wouldn't that be great?). All kidding aside, I have seen people act consistently sharper when they are well rested.
How are you going to get a good night's sleep to ensure you are not sabotaging your weight loss efforts?
Here are a few tips for getting a good night's sleep:
1. Don't watch TV before bed. You may not realize how fired up the news or your favorite TV show gets you before bed time. Instead grab a book or your favorite magazine and read in bed. This works wonders, especially a good fiction book that will help you forget the day's events.
2. Cut your caffeine intake early in the day. An afternoon coffee or tea can still be racing through your blood stream at 10pm. Cut out your last caffeinated beverage by noon. This includes all coffee and teas (except herbal teas). Once you catch up on your sleep, you won't be so dependent on your afternoon java kick.
3. Avoid Sugar before bed. (You were avoiding sugar anyway right?) Consuming sugar right before bed leads to a blood sugar roller coaster ride, potentially waking you up in the middle of the night due to a blood sugar low.
4. Put your work away before bed. There is nothing worse than a racing mind before bed. Crunching numbers and reading work documents right before bed may lead to dreams about work (or nightmares). End all work at least 2 hours before bed. If this is not possible for you, you may need to reassess your work schedule a bit.
Whatever the adjustments are for you, remember, sleep may just be the missing link in your nutrition, exercise and health regimen. Stick to your Diet Solution Meal Plans and tuck yourself in at 10pm each night and you will be well on your way to fat loss success.
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