Calories in, calories out has long been the standard equation for weight loss. Yet, recent research has shown another factor plays a role in weight management: sleep! Sleep affects hormonal and metabolic processes that are connected to weight, meaning a lack of sleep can do more than just make you feel sluggish the next day. Here are 5 things to know about sleep and weight loss:
1. Short Sleep Linked to Weight Gain and Higher BMI
Sleep and weight loss are uniquely tied together. Not getting enough sleep (fewer than 6-7 hours a night) is associated with both weight gain and a higher body mass index according to numerous studies. Insufficient sleep negatively affects hormone levels responsible for a number of factors that can lead to weight gain. A 2020 review of 20 studies totaling 300,000 people discovered that adults who sleep less than 7 hours a night were at a 41% increased risk of obesity.
2. Sleep Can Help Reduce Caloric Intake
Sufficient sleep can help us consume fewer calories, making it easier for us to lose weight. A randomized clinical trial of 80 adults found that participants who were able to increase their sleep duration with the help of personalized sleep hygiene counseling reduced their caloric intake by 270 calories a day. That change in calories translates to roughly 26 pounds of weight loss if the participants were to continue to this extra sleep over a period of 3 years. It found that these participants saw a decrease in how much they ate — in some cases up to 500 fewer calories a day — without changing any other lifestyle factors.
3. Sleep Can Impact Metabolism
When we don’t get enough sleep our metabolism can be hampered, in many cases leading to weight gain. This lack of sleep decreases resting metabolic rate (RMR), which measures the number of calories our bodies burn when at rest. A lower RMR makes it more difficult to lose weight. A 2016 study found that sleep restriction decreased RMR in the morning, suggesting that sleep loss leads to negative metabolic changes meant to conserve energy.
4. Sleep Duration Affects Appetite-Regulating Hormones
Those who are sleep deprived report having an increased appetite which often leads to the consumption of additional calories and thus weight gain. That’s because sleep impacts the appetite-regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin. Insufficient sleep is associated with higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that causes us to feel hungry. At the same time, it can cause lower levels of leptin, the hormone that makes us feel full. When this happens people are more likely to consume additional calories and gain weight. Sufficient sleep can bring these hormones back to balance.
5. Sleep Can Help Stimulate Exercise
Sleep and weight loss are connected when it comes to exercise. Not getting enough sleep often leads to daytime fatigue, which in many cases makes us less likely to be motivated to exercise. Without exercise, it makes it difficult to lose weight by not achieving a caloric deficit. With a full night’s rest, we feel more energized which can lead to more activity throughout the day.
Sleep and weight loss are tied together in a number of ways you may not have been previously aware of. Are you aiming to lose some weight? Take a look at some helpful things to do to lose weight!