Summer is nearly upon us and, for many, that means the pressure is on to get in shape for the season. But getting fit and losing weight is not as easy as it sounds. One would think that simply eating a healthy diet and exercising would be enough to lose weight but alas, that’s sometimes not the case.
While diet and fitness are, no doubt, big factors in weight loss or management, they’re not quite the golden tickets that they appear to be. There is one other key player in the journey to weight loss, and that is sleep. Sleep is integral to maintaining a healthy weight, for a number of reasons.
For one, sleep regulates hunger cues, while lack of sleep can cause us to be hungry when we’re not. You’ve surely experienced this for yourself. You wake up at 6am for work after a late night, and you’re ravenous. Usually you’re not much of a breakfast person, but today you down two big bowls of cereal plus a plate of eggs and bacon yet you’re still hungry.
Lunch can’t come soon enough, no afternoon snack can suffice, and by dinnertime, you binge a big bowl of pasta and pass out. Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you know the woes of a sleep-deprived appetite.
The reason for this is because lack of sleep stimulates ghrelin, the hormone that triggers hunger. It also reduces leptin, which is the hormone that tells us to stop eating when we’re full. Without it, we can easily overeat without realising what’s happening until it’s too late.
But that’s not all – Sleep loss also elevates cortisol, a sometimes harmful stress hormone. When our bodies are under stress, we do not digest food as efficiently, and we go into panic mode, thinking that times are tough and therefore storing any energy we give it rather than burning it off. A stressed body also tends to produce insulin at higher rates, which may send us reaching for donuts and other sugary or fatty foods. Cortisol can even cause us to store fat in unideal places (like our abdomen), as this is where most of our cortisol receptors are located.
Are you convinced yet why sufficient sleep is important for weight loss? If not, consider this – Will you really have the energy to work out if you barely slept the night before? Probably not. Will you have the willpower to reach for nutritious foods or the brainpower to think about which food choice is healthiest? Doubt it… Exercising and eating well just got a whole lot harder. But none of this needs to be difficult.
When you get adequate sleep, weight loss may not feel as difficult. Suddenly, the sun is shining a bit brighter, so you’ll want to get outside and move. You’re feeling fresh and rejuvenated, so you’ll want to maintain that feeling by eating water-rich and fibrous foods. And best of all, your metabolism will be functioning efficiently which will help facilitate your weight loss.
The path to weight loss starts with good sleep, and the path to good sleep starts with a great mattress. We’re confident it will set you on the right track in your journey to healthy fitness and wellbeing.