You may be working out harder than everyone else at the gym or following a healthy eating plan to the letter, yet you just can’t seem to lose weight or keep your fitness goals on track. Why?
The solution might be simpler than you think: You may simply need to catch up on your sleep.
Yes, you heard that right. A lack of sleep can have a huge effect on our fitness and weight-loss goals. Here are a few ways that sleep deprivation affects your physical well-being.
Sleep Deprivation And Diet
Many people don’t realize just how intimately sleep is connected with appetite control and intake of food. Short sleep cycles (6 hours or less per night) have been linked to obesity among individuals, and along with exercise and diet, sleep has now been associated as one of the three important factors for achieving physical well-being. Research shows that there is a greater intake of fatty foods and carbohydrates among individuals who are sleep deprived and those who suffer from poor quality sleep than those who sleep soundly, controlling for all other factors.
This is because sleep has a very important role in the maintenance of your hunger hormones and makes you feel satisfied. When you get the required 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily, you contribute in the lowering of your ghrelin levels and in the increasing of your leptin levels. Both leptin and ghrelin are hunger hormones. Leptin is a hormone responsible for decreasing your appetite, whereas ghrelin is another hormone also produced by the body’s fat cells, but it increases your appetite. Getting proper sleep helps keep these hormones in check, and keeps you on the right track towards weight loss and better physical health.
Lack Of Sleep Changes Fat Cells — And Not In A Good Way
Another major hurdle that sleep deprivation poses to achieving better physical fitness and health is that it makes your fat cells groggy — yes, you heard that right. There is a term that has been coined by the researchers at the University of Chicago to define the way sleep deprivation alters your fat cells: It’s called “Metabolic Grogginess.”
When you get less sleep, your fat cells become confused, dazed and exhausted. Unlike you, your fat cells cannot be made to work late hours without ample time to get sleep by just gulping down strong caffeine shots and thus, start disrupting the process of proper insulin functioning and usage by the body. In fact, it drops your insulin sensitivity level by a whopping 30 per cent, and that is enough to keep you from losing weight. When your insulin function is disrupted, the confused and exhausted fat cells in your body start removing the lipids and fatty acids from your blood stream and they prevent storage. As a result, your body starts becoming insulin resistant and the lipids that are in circulating your blood stream start pumping out more amounts of insulin. The body starts storing this excess insulin in all the places where it shouldn’t be stored and this, contributes to diabetes and weight gain.
How Poor Sleep Can Sabotage Your Workouts
Lack of sleep can really sabotage your gym efforts, and not just because you’re too tired to go on a run. A lack of sleep causes a decrease in protein synthesis, which results in loss of muscle, and a lack of muscle can slow down your metabolism and promote fat gain. Sleep deprivation can also lead to muscle tears and injuries while working out, plus, it makes it harder for your body to recover after a strenuous workout routine and increases the production of cortisol in your body. Cortisol slows down the growth hormone production, which facilitates anti-aging and fat burning.
Sleep To Stay Fit
The relationship between poor sleep and poor fitness cannot be ignored. Individuals who get less sleep are more likely to gain weight and suffer from metabolic grogginess which can contribute greatly to poor physical health and slow down the process of achieving your fitness goals.
If you’re chronically sleep deprived and cannot reach your fitness goals, it may be time to focus on your sleep goals first.
About the author:
Eugene Gabriel is a passionate blogger. He has always been fascinated by sleep and how it relates to health and wellness. Read his post on Health and Fitness. You can follow him on twitter @eugenegabrielj