Why Sleep is Crucial in Losing Weight
As kids, we were constantly told by our elders to sleep a good 8-12 hours a day but as adults, it has become so easy to neglect this reminder. We usually associate lack of sleep to an increase in productivity because you simply have more time to work and do your daily activities if you sleep less. Some runners and gym goers even say that they can run and exercise with just 4-5 hours of sleep.
So we did a quick survey in the Pinoy Fitness community Facebook group to ask more than 100 runners how many hours of sleep they usually get. The result of the quick survey shows that majority of runners only sleep for 4-7 hours a day. However, according to sleepfoundation.org, a normal adult (age 18 and above) needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day and anything below that is an insufficient amount of rest.
But can we change our priorities if we know how lack of sleep significantly affects our fat loss and muscle gains?
A terrifying scenario in every fitness journey is not getting the results despite hard efforts. A person can be eating clean and training 4x-5x a week, and yet he or she may not lose weight just because of bad sleeping habits. For so long, some people have had the idea that fitness is all about proper diet and exercise, all the while forgetting one important factor, sleep. Whether you’re trying to cut off those extra pounds or gain muscles, sleep plays a vital role in your fitness journey and here are 4 reasons why:
1. Staying up late at night can lead to unhealthy eating habits
One of the more obvious side effects of sleeping late is midnight cravings aka that extra 300 – 500 calories you eat after 12 mn. Cramming for a big presentation or report the next day, working or studying way beyond 12 mn, or even just scrolling Facebook and Instagram news feed at 2 am are just some of the many reasons why we tend to stay up all night. Late night work and activities like the ones mentioned keep you awake for more than 18 hours a day and thus naturally, keep you eating more snacks after dinner.
2. Inadequate sleep triggers your hunger hormones
Lack of sleep causes pangs of hunger throughout your day because of imbalance in our hunger hormones. Ghrelin is the hormone released in the stomach to signal hunger to the brain while Leptin is the hormone in charge of the feeling of “fullness”. A study shows that by not getting the proper amount of sleep, the amount of ghrelin is increased by 14.9% and the amount of leptin was 15.5% lower which generally means that you are bound to eat more without feeling “full”. The hormone cortisol, that is considered to be a stress hormone is also significantly increased which can result in an increase in our appetite.
3. More eye bags, fewer muscles!
You may have heard this before but this is one thing that is worth mentioning again- Muscle is the enemy of fat! Whatever your fitness goal is, it’s important to have a good amount of muscles in your body. Muscles are crucial in burning fat and increasing your resting metabolic rate. But if you are running on just less than 7 hours of sleep every day, your body might not be able to produce enough growth hormone that is essential in repairing and building muscles.
4. Lack of sleep is bad for your metabolism
In a study done by the University of Chicago, people who slept poorly in just 4 days had a 30% drop in their insulin level. That is quite an alarming rate because insulin is a crucial hormone in transforming sugars, starches, and other food into energy. It is in charge of removing acids and lipids from your bloodstream. Without sufficient insulin, the fats in your bloodstream won’t be processed and will be stored just as fats.
There was even a study from the Annals of Internal Medicine that put people of the same diet in different sleeping schedules. The results showed that people who were sleep-deprived lost just half of the weight that those with adequate sleep lost even if they were on the same diet.
5. Poor sleep may lead to lack of energy during exercise
Although sleeping for 4-6 hours a day can still make you functional at work or school, it is undeniable that lack of sleep can decrease your energy and performance during physical activities. Without enough sleep, what could have been a sub-1 hour 10 km run can take a few more minutes and your normal weights in squats may feel way heavier than usual. What’s worse is when you feel that you may feel too groggy and dizzy to even put on your running shoes or hit the gym.
So how are you sleeping today?