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Why Sleep Is So Important For a Healthy Body

<p>Why Sleep Is So Important For a Healthy Body</p>
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 6 min read

When you are trying to lose weight you generally concentrate on two things: diet and exercise. But you might be missing an important aspect of your diet and weight loss. Good, healthy sleep is vital to losing weight and maintaining a healthy body.

If you don't get enough sleep you could be undoing everything you are trying to achieve through diet and exercise. You have to be able to maintain good sleep hygiene in order to be successful in your weight loss efforts and maintain a healthy body weight. Sleep is a key factor that many people are missing in their regimen.

Your dietary habits change when you don't get enough sleep

When you don't get enough sleep, your body's dietary habits change. You don't just feel tired. Your body is tired. And it feels like it has to make up for that with food intake. If you get less than 7 hours of sleep each night, you could be very unsuccessful in your weight loss efforts.

When you don't get adequate sleep, you will feel hungrier and meals will be less satisfying. You will find yourself eating more calories, even if you stick to the healthy foods you planned to eat. The more calories you take in, the less likely it is that you will lose weight, and you won't be able to maintain a healthy weight. You will also have even more severe cravings for the foods you are trying to avoid than you usually do.

A lack of sleep also causes your body to lose less fat, even though you follow a strict diet and exercise program. In a study done by Annals of Internal Medicine it was discovered that people who do not get enough sleep have about half the fat loss of people with sleep, even though they were on the same diet and exercise regimen.

Not getting enough sleep  affects your ability to  exercise

Not getting enough sleep also affects your ability to get adequate exercise to boost your weight loss efforts. You will lack the energy to exercise effectively. You may decide to skip a day altogether because you are just too tired to go to the gym. If you don't skip a day, your workout will be less effective. You will be moving slower and your muscles won't be up to handling as much weight as usual.

You won't be able to exercise as long as you normally would as well. You will wear out much quicker than if you are fully rested. While you may usually do a 40 minute cardio workout, without enough sleep you will likely only be able to do half that. If you push yourself to finish the workout anyway, your body will be stressed and produce cortisol. This is a hormone that makes you store fat, reduces your metabolism, and blocks the production of growth hormone.

A lack of sleep will also affect the results of your workouts. Most exercise is aimed at building muscle, not just losing fat. In order to build muscle, your workouts are designed to break that muscle down so that it can build back up to be stronger than before. But growth hormone, the hormone responsible for that muscle build up, is severely decreased when you don't get enough sleep.

Not sleeping enough changes how your body stores fat

Sleep also changes the way your body stores fat. When you don't get enough sleep, your fat cells become "€œgroggy"€ just as you are. It slows your metabolism dramatically. This is because sleep depravation causes severe changes in how your body produces and uses insulin. A lack of sleep disrupts insulin production, which causes fat to store in the cells.

This happens because insulin causes your body to process lipids, or fats, in a way that keeps them from building up in the cells and body. When insulin production is disrupted, metabolism slows and those lipids are not able to be flushed out and used. This leads to more lipids clinging to cells and causing you to gain weight.

And remember that pesky cortisol? It is released when your body is under stress, which it often is when you are not getting enough sleep. When your body is stressed, cortisol is released, and that makes fat cling to your cells. There is a reason it is called the fat storage hormone. If you want to avoid it, good sleep is a must.

Not sleeping enough changes your appetites

There are two hormones that control appetite. Leptin makes you less hungry and boosts your metabolism. Ghrelin slows your metabolism and stimulates hunger. In order to have successful weight loss and maintain a healthy weight you have to control both hormones.

When you don't get enough sleep that becomes impossible. When you don't get enough sleep, the area of your brain that controls hunger flips a switch and makes you very hungry. It also reduces the amount of leptin your body produces while increasing the amount of ghrelin your body makes.

The end result of this scientific marvel is that if you don't get enough sleep, you are never going to lose weight or control your hunger. You will always feel hungry and be more likely to follow through on food cravings. Worse, your metabolism will be slower so you will burn those extra calories at a much slower rate.

Sleep can affect your decision making

We all know that our brains don't function on the higher levels when we are really tired. Sleep depravation affects the frontal lobe of the brain, where decisions are made. It is much harder to convince yourself to stay on your diet, avoid binges, exercise, weigh in, and do the other things you need to do to lose weight when your decision making abilities are not at their best.

Think of it like being drunk. When you are drunk you make poor choices. You know that something is wrong, but decide what the heck I'm going to do it anyway. A lack of sleep has much the same effect on the brain and decision making. You know you shouldn't have that piece of cake, but your brain says, aw, come one, one slice won't hurt. Be sure that you're getting enough sleep and make it a point to sneak in extra sleeping time if you've found that you are negatively affected by a lack of sleep.



This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.