Does this sounds familiar….racking your brain trying to figure out why you’re gaining weight — or why it’s so difficult to lose those extra pounds that just seem to sneak up on you despite not changing your diet or exercise habits?
This phenomenon is often referred to as Weight Loss Resistance – and it’s exactly how it sounds: weight that just won’t budge no matter what you do!
And when I went digging to figure out what was happening with me, I came to understand that one (surprising) reason for the weight gain or inability to lose was this: lack of good quality, restorative sleep. #whoa
Why Lack of Sleep Causes Weight Gain
If you thought unsightly dark circles under your eyes, headaches and constant yawning were the worst outcome from cutting corners on sleep, you may want to think again.
Sleep is of the utmost importance to nearly every bodily system and losing out on it, even just a little, creates a vicious cycle in your body. In fact, there are quite a few science-backed reasons why a lack of sleep can be a strong contributing factor to not being able to maintain a healthy weight.
To start, where a healthy body weight may be of concern, the more sleep deprived you are, the higher your levels of stress hormone (cortisol) will be, which tends to increase your appetite.
Then, once your appetite is increased, a lack of sleep also thwarts your body’s natural ability to process sugar and carbohydrates – which of course is what you’re craving after a crappy night’s sleep! #allthecarbs
Additionally, when you’re overtired, the mitochondria (little cellular factories that turn food and oxygen into energy = metabolism centers) actually start to shut down. This causes glucose to stay in your blood, and you end up with high blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone whose job it is to signal the body’s muscle, fat, and liver cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream to be used for energy. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that skimping on sleep can cause fat cells to become less insulin-sensitive by up to 30% – meaning they lose their ability to use insulin properly. And if they can’t use insulin efficiently, what do you think the outcome is? Weight gain/inability to lose!
Yet another reason you might pack on pounds when you’re lacking in sleep is because your body goes into survival mode – much like when we deprive our bodies of too little calories through ultra restrictive eating. Therefore, survival mode = extra fat storage. (The body thinks it’s better to be fat than dead!)
And all of that isn’t even the worst of it!
Research says that just 30 minutes of lost sleep per day could make you more likely to gain weight. #blamethekids
Now, I know how hard it is to make sleep a priority. We’ve created perpetual busy-ness. I often find myself using ‘sleep time’ to work, tidy, scroll social media or decompress BUT sleep could arguably be the most important thing you can do if you’re ready to start a new health optimization plan that includes weight loss. The other ‘things’ can wait.
As I’ve come to realize for myself, sleeping isn’t just a time to rest — you’re actually nourishing your body just as you are when you’re eating healthy foods. It may require some behavioural and mindset shifts on your part, but your body, belly (and booty) will thank you. And when you are able to prioritize sleep the same way you do eating and training, you will make strides in your weight loss journey just like I did.
10 Tips for better quality sleep
- Try to sleep 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Establish regular sleep hours. Try to go to bed and wake up in
the morning around the same time every day, even on the
- Go to bed before 11:00 pm, preferably by 10:00 pm. Our
stress glands, the adrenals, recharge between the hours of
11:00 pm-1:00 am.
- Avoid using a loud alarm clock. Waking up suddenly can be a
shock to your body.
- Sleep in complete darkness. Your room should be as dark as
possible to maintain melatonin balance.
- Do not turn on the light if you go to the bathroom during the
night. Turning on the light, even for just a second, shuts down
melatonin production and can contribute to sleep deprivation
- Turn on the lights or open the blinds as soon as you wake. Allow the daylight and the sounds of the morning to stimulate and wake the brain. This helps to reset your body clock and ensures that your melatonin levels remain on ‘awake’ until the evening.
- Ensure adequate exposure to daylight by spending time outside during the day. This also helps to regulate the day and night’s natural cycle on the brain.
- Avoid alcohol before bed.
- Have a cup of calming tea (chamomile) or use sleep supporting essential oils (lavender, roman chamomile, cedarwood, copaiba, vetiver)
Do you need some help knowing what to eat to help you lose weight without eating like a bird or spending hours in the gym?
LOOK NO FURTHER!