The Importance of Sleep for Weight Loss
Recently we’ve been talking to a lot of ladies about sleep in relation to their results on their weight loss journey so we thought it was worth clarifying some of the things we’ve been telling you. Lots of people suffer from poor sleep habits at some stage of their lives. Unfortunately women tend to be more affected than men.
Sleep is every bit as important for optimal health as healthy food, clean water, and exercise. While the exact mechanisms of sleep are still quite a mystery, increasing research is showing that your body’s sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, plays a central role in multiple body processes
Far from simply helping you to feel alert, proper sleep forms the foundation for your body to function optimally. They impact everything from mood and energy levels to disease progression and weight gain.
What makes sleep deprivation so detrimental is that it doesn’t just impact one aspect of your health… it impacts many. Among them are three major risks to
your mental and physical well-being:
- Reaction Time Slows making driving or other potentially dangerous activities, like using power tools, risky. One study even found that sleepiness behind the wheel was nearly as dangerous as drinking and driving.
- Your Cognition Suffers, you’ll have trouble retaining memories, processing information, and making decisions. This is why it’s so important to get a good night’s sleep prior to important events at work or home.
- Emotions Are Heightened: As your reaction time and cognition slows, your emotions will be kicked into high gear. This means that arguments with co-workers or your spouse are likely and you’re probably going to be at fault for blowing things out of proportion.
Also research has found that sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness, which may help explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases.
Poor sleep can actually impact virtually every aspect of your health, and the reason for this is your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) actually “drives” the rhythms of biological activity at the cellular level.
We’re only beginning to uncover the fascinating biological processes that take place during sleep. For example, during sleep your brain cells shrink by about 60 percent, which allows for more efficient waste removal.
Sleep is also intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin, production of which is disturbed by lack of sleep. This is extremely problematic, as melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction).
Key to us, lack of sleep also decreases levels of your fat-regulating hormone leptin while increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin. The resulting increase in hunger and appetite can easily lead to overeating and weight gain, in fact, statistics prove that individuals who suffer from sleep deprivation are heavier than those that get sufficient sleep.
So as you can imagine, disruptions to sleep tend to cascade outward throughout your entire body. There’s a lot that’s not known but with extensive research more and more is being discovered. For example, poor or insufficient sleep was found to be the strongest predictor for pain in adults over 50.
In addition, separate research also found that when participants cut their sleep from 7.5 to 6.5 hours a night, there were increases in the expression of genes associated with inflammation, immune excitability, diabetes, cancer risk, and stress.
From the results of this study, it appears as though sleeping for an extra hour, if you’re getting less than seven hours of sleep a night, may be a simple way to boost your health. But the opposite also holds true in that getting just one hour less sleep a night may raise your risk of multiple chronic diseases.
So, that’s why we mention it so often.