I’m sure by now, you’ve been told you need to sleep more, but I’d like to share with you some unknown ways sleeping more helps you lose weight. We all know we need 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and I actually find I do better with 9 or 10. Yes, I know that seems like a lot, but my life has become so much better since I started sleeping more. You’ll find your key amount of hours each night as you experiment with time, and it can take a few weeks or even a month, but it's worth it. If you can’t sleep, try some over the counter natural supplements, or try to eat foods that induce sleep. Whatever you have to do, just make sure to get more sleep if you’re concerned with weight loss. Even naps count! The following ways sleeping more helps you lose weight might surprise you, and might not. Either way, they’re important to remember if weight loss is your goal. Whatever you have to do, make adding more sleep to your nights and days happen. You’ll be so glad you did!
1. Less Cortisol Output
One of the most commonly known ways sleeping more helps you lose weight is that it lowers the amount of stress over time that your body suffers, just through one small change. Cortisol is the hormone secreted in your body during times of stress. The body knows when stress occurs mentally or physically, and shoots out cortisol to help give you that “fight or flight” sense of energy we feel when we’re in a panic or an emergency. Even if you’re not in a panic and need to “fight or flight,” the body mistakes all forms of stress for this reaction and will send out cortisol to compensate. Going just one or two hours without sleep compared to what you need can cause this to happen. Cortisol stores weight in the body fast and leads to a host of other weight-gaining reactions through your hormones. Sleeping more helps your body produce less all the time, around the clock.
2. Better Appetite Control
As I mentioned, since less cortisol is being excreted, other hormones in your body can perform more normally as well, including your hunger signals and appetite cues. You’ll notice when you’re stressed or really tired that you feel the need to reach for high calorie foods, and this is why. Being stressed or tired changes hormones in your body that lead them to function poorly. The hormones leptin and ghrelin directly affect your hunger levels, and these two hormones are influenced by the amount of cortisol in your body, and the amount of sleep you get. To allow these hunger hormones to do their job and keep you on a more even keel, just get more sleep! You’ll notice you don’t crave poor high calorie foods, or feel as stressed overall. You should still eat normal meals and snacks since going without food won’t help your metabolism, but you’ll notice a more stable appetite during the day if you get enough sleep the night before.
3. A Better Mood
Getting more sleep just makes you feel good! That good mood from a night of good rest isn’t your imagination. It’s a true chemical response in your body, and with your hormones. Serotonin production is much better when you get enough sleep. Serotonin is that happy hormone chemical we all know about and it influences everything about your weight, in ways you might not realize. It helps reduce cortisol in the body, aids in appetite regulation, and even prevents depression that leads to bingeing, stress eating, or reaching for high calorie, unhealthy foods. Low serotonin can also make you not want to work out and be active, which causes a whole other weight loss issue.
4. Better Workouts
Getting more sleep can only help your workouts. The more sleep you get, the more energy you’ll have, enough to work out and have the energy to work out hard! Even if you only exercise for 30-45 minutes, you’ll burn more calories if you have more energy to put into your workouts from a good night’s rest.
5. You’ll Forego Being Lazy
It’s much easier to stay off the couch and avoid lounging around or being lazy if you’ve had enough rest! When you’re short on sleep, all you want to do is lie around. That’s not doing your metabolism or your weight much good. To prevent excess sofa time, just get more sleep!
6. It Affects Your Digestion
Did you know your digestion can not only affect your weight dramatically, but is also directly affected by your sleep? About 80% of the nerves that connect to your brain run directly through your digestive tract, and these neurotransmitters communicate with your stomach and your brain. When you’re stressed, digestion is all over the place, and since lack of sleep contributes to more stress, sleeping less means bad digestion. Your body can’t digest food when it is stressed or in action, because it’s too busy trying to deal with the stress inside your body. Blood diverts away from the digestive system that's needed to digest your food when you're stressed to perform other actions in your body. Poorly digested food ends up being stored as wastes that leads to weight gain. Do an experiment and get more sleep. You’ll probably notice you not only digest your food better, but you’re also more regular as a result, which sounds gross, but is important for healthy weight loss.
7. Better Food Choices
I don’t know about you, but if I go a night without sleep, the next day, I’m just ready to grab whatever I can to eat, and my overall choice of foods is less stellar than when I’m fully rested. It’s so easy to just grab processed food, fast food meals, or even high fat and high sugar “healthy foods” in excess. Cereal, almond or peanut butter, and protein bars are easy to eat off of all day, but eating a lot of those foods instead of whole foods as meals can lead to weight gain quickly. Getting a full night’s rest ensures you’ll make balanced food choices during the day. If you can, do some meal prep at the beginning of the week so you always have healthy food pre-made in your fridge.
Sleeping 8-9 hours is usually best for most people, but 20-30 minutes naps count too! If you truly need a nap- take one! Keep it less than an hour so you don’t disrupt your sleep, but feel free to take one a few days a week if you need to. You’ll notice you’ll drop weight so much faster if you’re well rested. Try to go to bed in time to get 8 hours of sleep and if you’re having trouble going to sleep, check out my article on All Women Stalk about natural herbal tea remedies for sleep here: health.allwomenstalk.com. How much sleep do you need to feel your best?