If you ever needed an excuse to sleep in, this is it.
With our busy day-to-day schedules and 24/7 screen time, there is a false belief that sleep is a waste of time. We all try to get away with less Zzz's than we really need, whether to get up early for a morning run, stay out late to catch up with friends, or binge watch our favourite Netflix program. However, your sleep cycle has a major influence on your health, and missing out on a few hours of sleep each night can throw your whole body into a weight-loss plateau.
In fact, recent studies by the Sleep Health Foundation found that the national average sleep time to be less than 7 hours, with 45 percent of Australians admitting to having inconsistent sleeping patterns.
So if you're cutting back on sleep while trying to cut your calorie intake and aren't seeing results, this could be why.
Here's 5 ways sleep is affecting your weight loss goals:
1. Insulin response: After only a few days of insufficient rest, your body's ability to respond to insulin declines and your fat cells are less able to produce energy. Your glucose remains higher as a result, and the extra fats and sugars circulating your body are then turned into even more insulin. This response causes your body to store fat in all the wrong places!
2. Hunger hormones: Hunger is controlled by two hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Produced in your fat cells, leptin controls your food satisfaction, meaning the less leptin your body produces, the less satiated you feel after each meal. On the other hand, ghrelin stimulates hunger and metabolic rate, so the less sleep you get, the hungrier you are throughout the day but the slower your body converts food into energy.
3. Decision making: Ever wonder why you feel more inclined to eat sugary snacks when you're tired? Lack of sleep causes your brain to be less resistant to temptation. By reducing activity in your brain's frontal lobe (the area that controls impulse) and spiking the reward regions of your brain, less sleep makes you more inclined to crave a midnight snack and high-carb foods.
4. Portion Size: Sleep deprivation equals constant hunger. To maintain energy throughout the day, you begin to select greater food portions which makes weight gain more likely. This not only makes you likely to eat more throughout the day, but to lean on caffeine, high sugar sweets or other foods we know we shouldn't eat to get us through our busy day!
5. Physical Exhaustion: Finally, If you think you can head to the gym to counteract these issues, you are mistaken. Not only does lack of sleep cause physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, but research has proven that sleep deprivation can cause muscle wasting, a higher chance of injury, decreases your body's ability to build muscle and slows down recovery time after a workout.
Top 5 tips to improving sleep:
1. Make it 7-8 hours: Sounds simple, but try to give yourself 7-8 hours sleep each night. To make this easier, try creating a bedtime ritual to help your body wind-down; take a bath, read a book, or meditate.
2. Keep it consist: To support your circadian rhythm, go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, even on weekends. After awhile, you'll feel your body settle into a schedule and it will become easy to maintain a consistent sleeping pattern.
3. Remove all blue light: Computers screens, phone screens and other technology can have a negative effect on our hormone levels by reducing melatonin production. Shut down your screens at least an hour before bed for a better night's sleep.
4. Turn off the nights: Darkness tells your body to sleep by releasing the natural sleep hormone melatonin. Light suppresses this hormone so be sure to turn off all lights and close the blinds before going to bed.
5. Watch what you eat: Avoid eating heavy meals, consuming alcohol or foods containing high sugar or caffeine close to bedtime!
By Lyn Green
Nutritionist and F45 8-Week Challenge Director.