The Science Behind How Sleep Deprivation Can Affect Weight Loss

There are many factors that affect weight loss but as it turns out, burning time (and fat) at the gym and watching what you eat do not make up the complete formula. One more thing that needs regulation is sleep.

But how can a seemingly unrelated necessity — and a hobby for some — have such a direct implication on the journey to a better physique?

In March 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 33.33% of American adults suffer from sleep deprivation. On top of the weight loss standstill, not getting enough sleep also increases the likelihood of obesity in extreme cases. Obesity soars at the same statistic which makes it easy to find the correlation between the two. This may be caused by two main things: the reduced amount of activity and increased caloric intake.

Sleeping habits affect the amount of energy made available by the amount of sleep one gets. Harvard Med explains that energy conservation happens primarily at night or during inactivity. That is part of the whole process of metabolism which, in simple terms, is the way food is converted into energy. So when you sleep too little, you don’t create enough energy to expend throughout the day. And the excess food that isn’t turned into energy will be stored as fat.

It doesn’t help your case if you plan to hit the gym either. Fitness expert Jim White mentioned in a Leesa blog post why it’s better to choose sleep over exercise if you have extra time. The dietitian and exercise physiologist explained that a sleep deprived person is not likely to reach a high level of fitness, because you skip the stage of your body’s recovery from fatigue and stress. It’s a disastrous scenario for your weight loss goals.

On the other hand, the Huffington Post warns that oversleeping may lead to a mild cognitive impairment, hence the grogginess you feel on such occasions. Hit the median of the spectrum and you’ll wake up at the right side of the bed.

The lack of energy for exercise is logical but what causes the sudden urge to eat more than usual? Think of it this way: however you feel when you wake up is also the condition that your fat cells would be in. So if you feel groggy, your fat cells are also in a state of metabolic grogginess which can be explained simply as the body’s inability to regulate insulin. WebMD defines insulin as the principal hormone that converts sugar into energy and at an imbalance, sugar gets stored as fat which will remain in storage until it is burned.

Aside from decreased cognitive function that influences the way food choices are made, there is actually a chemical imbalance that affects eating habits. Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers that control most physiological functions. In particular, the hormone leptin suppresses the body’s hunger, while ghrelin signals the need to eat. The Prime Health reports that these hormones are sleep-dependent and sleep deprivation leads to a combination of too little leptin and too much ghrelin. Too much leptin means a big appetite which ghrelin uncontrollably feeds.

Now it makes more sense why health and fitness experts worldwide are reiterating the value of sleep in one’s lifestyle. From now on, start paying attention to your bedtime habits and make sure that you’re getting a healthy balance between exercise, nutrition, and sleep.

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