Sleep for Weight Loss

When it comes to weight loss, you always hear that it is 80% diet. But what about the other 20%? Does that other 20% matter? The answer is yes, it does.

It’s important to realize that weight loss is not easy. Your body is not designed to lose weight. You are actually designed to gain weight.  So with that being said, it’s important that your body is ready when you embark on a weight loss program. Yes, what you are eating is the most important part to weight loss. But so are your stress levels, exercise habits (not too much or too little), bowel movements, hormones, and sleep quality. 

Importance of Sleep

Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. Sleep is one of the main pillars of health. You spend 1/3 of your life sleeping, yet we often ignore this important part of our day.  Sleep plays a vital role in many bodily functions, including memory consolidation, immune function, hormone regulation, and cellular repair.

Stages of Sleep

Stage 1: This is the “dozing off” transition period from wakefulness to falling asleep. It typically lasts one to five minutes. As you drift off to sleep, you may still be aware of your surroundings. Your body hasn’t fully relaxed yet, and it’s easy to wake up during this time.

Stage 2: This is when the body enters a more relaxed state; temperature drops and breathing and heart rate slow. Brain activity generally slows as well, although there are short bursts of activity, called sleep spindles. These are believed to help stabilize memory.

Stage 3: This is deep sleep, during which the body relaxes even more. Some experts believe this stage is critical for restorative sleep. Deep sleep typically occurs in the first half of the night, and lasts for 20-40 minutes in each sleep stage cycle.

Stage 4/REM: REM sleep is thought to be essential for cognitive functions such as memory, learning and creativity. Vivid dreams may occur during REM sleep. Generally, a person enters a REM sleep stage after they’ve been asleep for about 90 minutes. REM stages make up about 25% of sleep in adults, with each stage getting longer and longer; the first stage may last a few minutes, while later stages may last for up to an hour.

Your Sleep and Your Health 

Anyone who has had a poor night’s sleep can tell you how it impacts their productivity the next day. Feeling sluggish, dull, and not at one’s best are all hallmarks of a lack of sleep. But what are the impacts of sleep deprivation outside of how we feel the next day? Not getting enough shuteye is being tied to serious consequences for both general health and weight loss. Research is showing that sleep impacts many aspects of your health and wellness.  Poor sleep has been associated with:  

  • grogginess
  • poor concentration
  • mood changes
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • memory loss
  • weakened immune system
  • increased risk of diabetes
  • increased risk of heart disease
  • increased risk of cancer
  • weight gain/obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • low sex drive

There are many issues that can impact your sleep such as poor sleep hygiene (looking at your phone, computer and TV screens late into the night), lifestyle choices (too much caffeine, poor diet, lack of exercise), work obligations (working late, stress), sleep disorders (sleep apnea), and other medical conditions. 

Sleep Hygiene 

Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to support weight loss goals. If you have trouble sleeping, here are a few tips to help you get a good night’s rest:

  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends.
  • When you exercise, make sure there are at least two to three hours before your bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Both are stimulants and can make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages near bedtime.
  • Don’t nap after 3 p.m.
  • Allow time for relaxing before bed. Take a hot bath, read, or listen to music.
  • Practice good “sleep hygiene”: keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool.
  • For a couple of hours before bed, avoid using devices, such as phones, computers, and tablets, that emit blue light (or use blue light blocker glasses). Blue light has been shown to disrupt sleep by suppressing the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
  • Supplements like melatonin and magnesium can also help with healthy sleep hygiene.

Try getting enough Z’s this week, and see how it affects your productivity, your appetite, and your general health.

Bottom Line 

Getting enough sleep can support weight loss efforts. Lack of sleep can disrupt hormones involved in appetite regulation, leading to increased hunger and cravings for high-calorie foods. Additionally, poor sleep can impact metabolism and reduce energy levels, making it more difficult to engage in physical activity. Getting enough sleep is crucial for maintaining physical and mental health, and can improve cognitive function, mood, and overall quality of life.