People try many different means to lose weight.
They study the right foods to eat, read up on nutrition, and plan their meals out in advance with a calendar or app.
These methods may work. But they’re usually short-lived. It doesn’t take too long before they’re right back to where they started.
What if we told you that one way to see long-lasting weight loss results was to get enough sleep?
On the surface, sleep and weight loss may look like two unrelated elements. But the connection is well-founded and supported by scientific evidence.
In fact, the connection is pretty simple. Your weight is determined by your metabolism. And a good night’s sleep promotes a faster metabolism. That means a good night’s sleep helps your body maintain its weight—even shed some pounds.
Metabolism Broken Down
Metabolism refers to a complicated process that boils down to the way your body burns energy. It’s that simple. Your metabolism is always chugging away to provide you energy throughout the day.
And the body’s stores of energy come from calories: it’s what gets burned up when we run, or bike, or even just sit and think. The faster your metabolism the more quickly you burn up calories for energy.
Which is why people with fast metabolisms tend to lose weight faster than someone with a naturally slower metabolic rate. But even if your metabolism is slow now, that doesn’t mean you can’t develop a fast metabolism.
Taking Control of Your Body’s Metabolism
The body’s metabolism naturally changes over time, typically slowing as we age. Hence why the older we get the harder it is to keep weight off if we don’t do anything about it.
Oftentimes, it feels like our bodies are out of control: as if they have a mind of their own. But that’s the wrong way to think about our body, especially when it comes to metabolism.
There are many ways to boost your metabolism—to kick it into high gear—but the best way of starting to control your metabolism? Get a better night’s sleep!
The Dance Between Sleep and Hormones
Poor sleep creates hormone imbalances. And those imbalances mess with metabolism. An array of hormones are adversely affected by sleepless nights to throw your body out of whack.
What are these hormones and how do sleepless nights twist them?
- Human Growth Hormone decreases, which hurts your body’s ability to metabolize fat and protein.
- Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” is elevated which increased the amount of fat your body stores.
- Leptin decreases, which is a hormone that suppresses your appetite.
- Ghrelin increases, enhancing your appetite.
So what’s the full story here? A lack of sleep creates a perfect storm of misbalanced hormones which compels you to eat thanks to an increased appetite. At the same time, your metabolism is slowed, meaning your holding on to all of that fat and protein instead of burning it off.
Better Sleep Starts With a Better Routine
The trick for improving your metabolism and getting your hormones back in order is to get a better night’s sleep. That’s easier said than done, as it always is.
How do you get a better night’s sleep?
We’ll start with the big recommendation, and maybe the hardest one to follow. Turn off your smartphone at least one hour before sleep—or at least put it on silent.
If you can’t resist being on your phone use an app to dim the screen’s blue light emission; blue light suppresses melatonin, making it much harder to fall asleep.
Plus, just being online makes it harder to sleep.
PBS reports that “Spending five or more hours a day online (vs. one hour) upped the risk of sleeping too little more than 50 percent. Spending three hours a day (vs. one hour) upped the risk nearly 20 percent.” The fear of missing out make us too anxious to drift off to sleep.
Dimming the lights you expose yourself to doesn’t end with a smartphone either. Use low-watt bulbs in your bedroom to help prepare your body for sleep. And aim for between 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep. This range is recommended to maintain health and well-being.
What else can you do? Well, create a routine for each night, a way to relax and decompress from the day’s worries. That might include reading (preferably a physical book), meditation, or a hot bath—studies show that a hot bath helps transition you to dreamland.
The overall lesson? Take the time to prepare for sleep and you’re more likely to have a better night’s sleep, thereby improving your metabolism.
Quality sleep is a necessary part of living a quality life, especially when it comes to harmonizing your metabolism where you want it to be. And not getting enough sleep is an easy way to succumb to burnout.
Remember, you are not locked into the lifestyle you live today. There is always room for change. And big changes start with a good night’s sleep.