What if we told you that you could lose weight in your sleep? You’d be up for that, right? The good news is that you kind-of can! So while you’re think of shedding your winter muffin / “loosing weight,” also be sure to add “get enough sleep” too – here’s why.
Sleep affects every process in your body – including weight control. And there’s enough scientific evidence now to show that not only should you be eating less and moving more to lose weight, but you also need to get the right amount of shuteye.
Insufficient sleep promotes hunger and appetite, which can lead you to eat too much during your waking hours. Studies have shown that too little sleep increases levels of your ‘hunger hormone’, ghrelin, and decreases levels of your ‘fullness hormone’, leptin. When those hormones are out of balance you’ll feel hungry all day and generally eat past your natural satiety levels.
Studies also show that people consume about 1 255kJ (300kcal) more a day when they’re sleep deprived. That’s the equivalent of a cup of cereal, with milk and a banana – a whole meal! They also snack more and are inclined to do less exercise.
Other research shows that too little sleep also plays havoc with your fat cells: it actually reduces fat cells’ ability to respond properly to the hormone insulin, which plays a role in insulin-resistance and Type 2 diabetes – both of which are associated with weight gain, especially around your middle.
So what, now what? Sleep needs vary from person to person, but most need seven to nine hours a night. To find your magic number, go to sleep at the same time for a few nights in a row, and then wake up without an alarm each morning until the hours stabilise. It’s best to do this when you are well-rested, not when you are trying to catch up on sleep.