No doubt, diet and exercise play a significant role in the process of losing weight.
But there are actually a handful of different factors that can affect your ability to effectively burn fat, and sleep happens to be one of the most important.
In fact, results from one recent study even suggested that sleep may be more important than exercise when it comes to weight loss. The researchers found that when compared with those who achieve adequate amounts of sleep, sleep-restricted adults may be more prone to weight gain as a result of consuming more calories throughout the day.
“Sleep helps to regulate appetite, metabolism and energy expenditure,” explains Rebecca Q. Scott, Ph.D., a sleep specialist at the New York Sleep Institute and an Assistant Research Professor in the NYU School of Medicine. “When we sleep too little, we produce more ghrelin, a hormone secreted by the stomach that tells the brain that we want to keep eating, and less leptin, a hormone that tells the brain we’re full and satisfied.”
Plus, Scott also pointed out that these hormone fluctuations increase your cravings for less healthy foods like refined carbohydrates, sugar and salt, while also diminishing your resolve to resist them.
And that’s just one way that a lack of sleep can mess with your weight loss goals.
As Alcibiades Rodriguez, M.D., the Adult Sleep Director at the New York Sleep Institute, points out, not getting enough sleep directly affects your energy levels, and a lack of energy will probably decrease your motivation or even ability to exercise.
Not to mention, regularly missing out on quality sleep time can lead to increased stress levels and poor mental health, another factor that can contribute to weight gain as a result of hormone imbalances in the body.
And above all else, consistently getting enough sleep each night is essential for maintaining good overall health. According to WebMD, poor sleep habits are associated with long-term issues like an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, depression, premature aging and impaired immunity.
Currently, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults 26 to 64 years old get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. For the organization’s full list of guidelines, see: Are You Getting Enough Sleep? New Study Suggests Revisions to Recommended Sleep Times