Can sleep be the quickest way to lose weight?
“I can sleep when I'm dead!”
This is my usual response to those who care enough about me to ask me to go to bed whenever I was working through the night.
I never say those words anymore.
Not just because its rude, but because I fear that could very well be a self-fulfilling prophecy if I continue to deprive myself of sleep. When it comes to the quickest way to lose weight, sleep is often a neglected aspect. People only talk about dieting and exercise to lose weight. No one ever says sleep is important for weight loss. And yet, this is one of the most important components in the weight loss equation.
A lot of us find it difficult to get a proper seven hours of sleep every night. Maybe you work for a multinational company just like me and need to stay up late to correspond with people from another time zone or you have a family responsibilities. Whatever the reason is, know that your lack of sleep not only affects your body from operating at its peak performance, but it can also make you fat.
Here are reasons how sleep can affect weight loss:
Messes up your fat loss hormones:
How to reduce tummy? Ensure that our fat loss hormones are in check. A lot of our hormones determine whether if we lose or gain weight. Many of these hormones in our body are affected by sleep. These include hormones that regulate your appetite such as Leptin and Ghrelin.
Leptin is the hormone gives the feeling of satiety that tells your body that it is full after you've finished a meal. While Ghrelin on the other hand stimulates appetite and tells your body it is starving.
Studies have shown that when we do not get sufficient sleep, our Leptin levels decrease resulting is us feeling less satisfied after a meal. During this time, Ghrelin levels will increase sending a false signal to our brain causing us to feel perpetually hungry even when our daily caloric consumption is sufficient. To compensate for the lack of energy as a result of insufficient sleep, Ghrelin triggered hunger tends to lead to the consumption of carbohydrates and calorie dense food.
Insufficient sleep equates to increased yearning for calorie rich foods which eventually result in weight gain.
No proper workout recovery:
When we sleep, our bodies repair itself from a long day of work. Preparing and recharging you for yet another day of toil. Every additional hour of rest your body receives, is additional time your body gets to recuperate.
Exercising is without a doubt one of the quickest way to lose weight. If you have exercised that day, you need even more rest! Without proper rest, your muscle will not be able to recover and grow. If you do not allow your body to fully recover, your muscles will not get stronger and the fat burning effect of your workouts will be reduced.
Affects your fat loss routine:
Do you remember how it feels to be jet lagged? I'm not talking about those seven or eight-hour flights. I'm referring to those 17-hour-deep-vein-thrombosis-inducing flights. In my first ever long haul flight to Toronto, I did not have proper sleep for more than 20 hours including flight time. (Thanks to the smelly snoring man who sat next to me). In my luggage, I already brought my gym gear and was planning to make full use of the hotel's fitness facilities. But the moment I got into my hotel room, I was so exhausted that I just changed into something comfortable, switched off all the lights and went to sleep – for 14 hours straight. I never had the energy to use the gym at all throughout my stay there.
You may not have experienced the same level of exhaustion. But consistent lack of sleep can result in the same effect. When you continually do not have enough sleep, all of your bodies priorities change. It no longer cares about your workout routine. It no longer cares if you do not make healthy food choices and you will find yourself eating anything you can find just to give your body instant energy to compensate for the lack of sleep. In essence, fat burning no longer becomes your body's priority.
How can your body help you to lose weight when it doesn't even have enough energy to keep you awake?
So how to get better sleep?
If you are serious about losing weight, you need to ensure that your body is primed for fat loss all the time. Getting enough sleep is an important component to the whole fat loss equation. Here are some tips that you can start adopting today to get yourself a proper nights rest:
- Lights off: When I was in the army, there is a dedicated “lights off” time every night to tell us that's the time we have to sleep. Determine what is your “lights off” timing every day and stick to it. Once it's time for “lights off”, turn off the lights and go to sleep. No excuses, no delays.
- Develop a sleep routine: We need to program our bodies to recognize a regular sleep time. 30 minutes before your “lights off” timing, prepare yourself for bedtime by doing the following:
- Dim or switch off all the lights in your room leaving only the bedside lamp. Sit up on your bed and read a fictional novel. Nothing serious, no “War Manual of Sun Tze”, definitely no email or anything that requires you to think or strategize.
- Turn off your BlackBerry! This is a cursed object that binds every corporate worker to his/her job. Your colleagues will not blame you if you do not reply their emails at 11.50pm your time. So shut that damn thing off!
- If you are feeling hungry, fix yourself a warm glass of milk. It helped us sleep better when we were young and you'll be surprised to know it still works for you now.
- Warming up your feet by putting on a warm pair of socks can help induce better sleep due to the increased blood flow.
- Make love: Sorry ladies, this tip is more for men. During orgasm, our bodies release a cocktail of chemicals including oxytocin which helps our bodies relax and induces a semi sedated state ideal for sleeping!
The importance of sleep on your weight loss success cannot be understated. As we strive to be more productive at work by making full use of every hour of everyday, we are sacrificing the much need rest required by our bodies. This continuous sleep deprivation shifts your bodies attention away from weight loss and over to weight gain.
By having sufficient sleep, your body will be able to function at its peak potential. You will be more efficient and productive at work, at the gym and on your way to quickest way to lose weight.