For years family and friends have likely said how important it is to go to the gym, stay healthy, and eat better. It’s also heard all over the television, talk radio, internet, and newspapers. Many people may also be trying healthy diets such as the keto diet, a low-carb, high-fat diet, which The Body Reboot book goes into more detail about. But even though a low carb diet has multiple health benefits (such as lower a risk for diabetes and possibly improving symptoms from diseases such as Parkinson's), it’s challenging to stick with any diet if you’re not getting enough rest. Even if you have some of the strongest willpower being sleep deprived never helps. Find out why sleep is so important to your weight loss efforts supported by studies.
WebMD reveals just how important sleep is when you’re trying to stay healthy or lose weight. If you’re sleep deprived you may be more likely to eat foods that don’t line up with your diet or eat more food in general, which won’t improve your weight loss goals.
Research tells the story. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people were starved of sleep, late-night snacking increased, and they were more likely to choose high-carb snacks.
A second study found that sleeping too little prompts people to eat bigger portions of all foods, increasing weight gain. And in a review of 18 studies, researchers found that a lack of sleep led to increased cravings for energy-dense, high-carbohydrate foods.
Add it all together, and a sleepy brain appears to crave junk food while also lacking the impulse control to say no.
HuffPost adds to WebMD’s discussion of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study by mentioning another study below that also mentions how a lack of sleep can lead to bad decisions.
A 2012 Mayo Clinic study compared the eating habits of people who slept as much as they needed to those who only logged two-thirds of their required rest time for eight days, and found that subjects who were sleep-deprived ended up eating an average of 549 extra calories each day (which could led to the gaining of one pound per week if the habit persisted). Other researchers have attributed this overeating response to the body’s simultaneous reduction of leptin, a hormone that signals feelings of fullness, and overproduction of ghrelin, a hormone that signals feelings of hunger, when you are sleep-deprived.
It turns out that sleep apnea may also increase health risks as well as make it more challenging for people to stick to a low carb diet. Read what else Sleep Foundation reveals below:
An estimated 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, a sleep-related breathing disorder that leads individuals to repeatedly stop breathing during sleep. Not only does sleep apnea seriously affect one’s quality of sleep, but it can also lead to health risks such as stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure and excessive daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea is often associated with people who are overweight – weight gain leads to compromised respiratory function when an individual’s trunk and neck area increase from weight gain. These interacting problems of weight gain and sleep apnea make it difficult to help oneself off the slippery slope of health problems. From a behavioral perspective, those suffering from sleep apnea may be less motivated to diet or exercise – daytime sleepiness lowers their energy levels and makes it difficult to commit to an exercise and/or diet program.
The Greatest mentions that not getting enough sleep can also lead to a lack of self-control, which makes sense. Sometimes when you’re tired it’s harder to resist temptations and stick to your low carb goals.
For most people, routine and commitment are an important part of weight loss. Sticking to your meal plan and staying active can lead to the results you want, but the best of intentions don't matter if you can't follow through with your plans.
According to research out of Clemson University, sleep deprivation is linked to poor self-control and impulsive decision-making. That means that when you're not rested enough, you might be more likely to ditch your workout buddy, impulsively eat junk food, or generally make decisions that aren't in your best weight-loss interests.
Not only can sleep deprivation ruin your diet efforts, but Shape says it can also wreak havoc on your workouts. If you’re so sleep deprived you can barely function it’s going to be hard finding enough energy to workout at the gym or go for a run!
Unfortunately, the disastrous impact spreads beyond diet and into your workouts. No matter what your fitness goals are, having some muscle on your body is important. Muscle is the enemy of fat—it helps you burn fat and stay young. But sleep (or lack thereof) is the enemy of muscle. Scientists from Brazil found that sleep debt decreases protein synthesis (your body’s ability to make muscle), causes muscle loss, and can lead to a higher incidence of injuries.
Just as important, lack of sleep makes it harder for your body to recover from exercise by slowing down the production of growth hormone—your natural source of anti-aging and fat burning that also facilitates recovery. This happens in two different ways:
Poor sleep means less slow wave sleep, which is when the most growth hormone is released.
As previously mentioned, a poor night of rest increases the stress hormone cortisol, which slows down the production of growth hormone. That means that the already reduced production of growth hormone due to lack of slow wave sleep is further reduced by more cortisol in your system. It’s a vicious cycle.
If you're someone who doesn't particularly enjoy exercise, not prioritizing sleep is like getting a physical examine with your father-in-law as the investigating physician: It will make something you don’t particularly enjoy almost unbearable. When you’re suffering from slept debt, everything you do feels more challenging, specifically your workouts.
Medical News Today also talks about the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study (which we also mentioned above) that revealed more about the importance of sleep:
Dr. Wendy Hall, from the Department of Nutritional Sciences at King's College London, and team recently completed a pilot study in which they tested whether or not a simple intervention could increase sleep duration in a group of adults.
Their results are published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In all, 21 healthy short-sleepers undertook a 45-minute sleep consultation. During this session, the sleep extension group were given at least four helpful hints to lengthen their sleep time, including information about reducing caffeine intake — having a coffee just before bedtime makes it harder to drop off (who knew?) — and setting up relaxing routines, such as a warm bath and some Kenny G.
Dr. Wendy Hall also mentioned something very important when it comes to the keto diet and getting enough rest:
The fact that extending sleep led to a reduction in intake of free sugars, by which we mean the sugars that are added to foods by manufacturers or in cooking at home as well as sugars in honey, syrups, and fruit juice, suggests that a simple change in lifestyle may really help people to consume healthier diets.” – Dr. Wendy Hall
All in all, it’s safe to say we need more rest. Medical News Today also mentions why moderation is important when it comes to sleep and sticking with a diet.
So, for now, we should take the findings with a pinch of salt; a lot more work will be needed to firm up the conclusions. That being said, it's now well-established that as a nation, we need more sleep — so you may as well give it a try.
Just to throw one final cat among the sleep-deprived pigeons, there is also some evidence that sleeping for too long increases mortality risk. As ever, moderation is key. Not too much, not too little.
In conclusion, the Sleep Foundation perfectly sums it up by discussing just how much all body systems may affect health.
By now you probably realize that health is complex – if one part of the body system suffers, you’re likely to see consequences in other areas of your life. Though diet and exercise are critical components of healthy lifestyles, it’s also important to remember that sleep is inherently linked with how we eat (and how much), how we exercise (and whether or not we lose weight), and how we function on a daily basis. Getting the proper amount of sleep each night is necessary to face the world with your best foot forward. Sleep will help you on the road to good fitness, good eating and good health.
At the time of writing this post, we're currently giving away free copies of the Body Reboot book because it's our mission to increase awareness and to help people lose weight and get healthy! If you help us cover the cost of shipping, we’ll send a copy to your door FREE. Go over to this page to see if there are any copies left.
Sources: WebMD, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, HuffPost, Sleep Foundation, Shape, Greatest, Medical News Today, Sleep, Volume 32, Issue 3, 1 March 2009, Pages 295–301
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