What sleep has to do with weight loss? The answer is everything! According to studies conducted earlier this year individuals who report fewer total hours of sleep are more likely to be overweight or obese (1). Moreover it is not only sleep that matters, the quality of your sleep matters too! Women who reported a better Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (you can see Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index questionnaire here) demonstrated significant weight loss where better sleep quality increased the likelihood of weight loss success by as much as 33 percent!
How Lack of Sleep Makes You Gain Weight…
It is all about hormones, cortisol in particular. As you get older your hormones estrogen and progesterone gradually decrease. As a result your cortisol levels rise and when your cortisol is high your insulin is high too. As you probably know, insulin is a fat storing hormone, thus high insulin leads to weight gain. And you don’t have to be over 40. If you don’t get an adequate amount of sleep you will have high insulin and cortisol even if you are in your twenties. Estrogen and progesterone tend to be lower in women who live under constant stress – this includes young women too.
In addition, your inability to sleep makes things worse by diminishing your thyroid. Now you have high insulin and cortisol AND low fat-burning hormone! This wrecks havoc in your entire system causing weight gain and numerous health issues. (Also see Weight Loss Hormones – Why You Can’t Lose Weight »)
What happens when you sleep…
Sufficient sleep is necessary for your body to restore. During the first three and a half hours of sleep a hormone called melatonin is secreted. This hormone is produced by a small gland in your brain – pineal gland. This remarkable hormone helps regulate your sleep and wake cycles. Then prolactin, the pituitary hormone, is released. With the release of prolactin your insulin and cortisol go down, as well as your thyroid and adrenals get rest. You should let sufficient amount of time for prolactin production to get all these benefits.
Sleep in Complete Darkness
Obviously the solution would be to reduce stress levels and get adequate amount of sleep. However there is one mistake many of us do and that is sleeping with the lights on. According to the studies even the smallest amount of light can raise your cortisol levels and interfere with your ability to sleep or the quality of your sleep. Cover your phone, computer, and TV lights, go to bed early and help your body heal itself.