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The Importance of Regulating Your Sleep Cycles for Weight Loss

Woman practices poor sleep hygiene resulting in disruption of sleep cycles which can contribute to weight gain

When putting together a weight loss plan, studies show that getting an adequate and consistent quality sleep is critical. Studies show that inadequate sleep while dieting can reduce the amount of weight loss and increase the risk of overeating.

  • A lack of sleep can affect the body’s regulation of ghrelin and leptin, two neurotransmitters that regulate the body’s appetite and capacity to feel full after a meal. Our body naturally varies the levels of these two neurotransmitters during the day to modulate our need to introduce calories. A lack of sleep increases the levels of ghrelin and decreases leptin. This altered regulation of ghrelin and leptin leads to an increase in appetite, making it more difficult to feel full when eating a meal.

  • Studies also show that sleep deprivation often leads to metabolic dysregulation, increasing oxidative stress, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance, leading to weight gain and difficulty losing weight.
  • Not only does sleeping less disrupt the circadian rhythms and facilitate weight gain, but people who are tired and stressed tend to also have different preferences in their choice of foods. When tired and stressed, we often choose foods richer in simple sugars, fats, and salt instead of more healthy, fresh, and nutritious options.
  • Inadequate sleep or poor sleep quality also hurts the capability and willingness to do physical activity. Of course, physical activity is essential for ideal weight loss. Not only does physical activity cause the body to burn calories, but it also has a vital role in reducing stress, releasing endorphins that make us feel good, and helping preserve or increase our body’s lean muscle mass. A lack of sleep leads to tiredness and lower energy levels, making physical activity more difficult and less enjoyable. In some cases, being tired can also increase the risk of injuries when doing physical activities.
  • Irregular sleeping patterns and inadequate sleep also tend to hurt the regularity of meals. Studies show that proper frequency of meals and the habit of regularly eating a nutritious breakfast decrease the risk of obesity. The frequency and regularity of meal intake are even more critical if a person aims for weight loss.

What Can Be Done?

Some good tips to improve your sleep and facilitate weight loss are:

  • Be consistent with the time at which you go to bed and wake up
  • Perform regular physical activity and avoid a sedentary lifestyle
  • Avoid large meals and foods containing simple sugars, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime
  • Try not to keep electronic devices (TVs, computers, etc.) in your bedroom
  • Keep your bedroom dark, silent, and at a comfortable temperature

These tips are referred to as “sleep hygiene.” It may require some time before you can fully enjoy their beneficial effects on your health. However, you can be sure that every night of good sleep gets you closer to a healthy and balanced body.

If you’re suffering from morbid obesity and feel like you’ve tried everything to go at it alone, you may wish to consider bariatric surgery with an experienced and knowledgeable weight loss surgeon like Dr. Higa. Bariatric surgery is the only proven long-term solution to obesity. Still, it is crucial that you speak to a qualified surgeon to understand if it is the right way forward.

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