Suffering from sleep deprivation? Craving a better night's sleep? Find yourself waking up throughout the night? If you answered yest to any of these questions, this blog is a MUST READ for you! I discuss the importance of sleep to weight management & weight loss, & to overall good health. As well as the causes of disrupted or inadequate sleep.
Sleep Hygiene and Weight Management: What You Need to Know
Many people, when trying to lose weight, tend to focus only on fitness and nutrition, thinking these two are the only significant elements that can affect their weight management goals. They often overlook a crucial aspect that has a major impact on managing their weight—sleep.
Sleep plays a vital role in our overall health and well-being, and its importance in weight loss cannot be overstated. In this blog, let us discuss what sleep hygiene is and how it affects weight management and overall body functions.
What is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene refers to a set of practices and habits that promote good sleep, such as having a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, choosing a comfortable sleep environment, and being mindful of what you eat and drink before bedtime, among many others. By observing good sleep hygiene, you can improve the quality and duration of your sleep, helping you maintain your ideal weight, prevent you from stress eating during the day, and achieve better overall well-being.
How Lack of Sleep Affects Body and Weight Management
Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your body and negatively impact your weight loss efforts in various ways. When you do not get adequate rest, hormonal and physiological changes occur in your body which leads to imbalances that can hinder weight loss. These include:
- Increased hunger hormones, making you feel hungrier and crave calorie-dense foods that offer little nutritional value.
- Reduced metabolism, making it more challenging for your body to burn calories efficiently.
- Insulin resistance which impairs the body's ability to use insulin effectively and regulate blood sugar levels; and
- Impaired cognitive functions, including decision-making and impulse control.
So, whether you are trying to lose or gain weight, if you are constantly deprived of sleep, your efforts won’t deliver the results that you are expecting. This leads us to our next question—how important is getting adequate, restorative sleep if you want to lose weight?
The Importance of Sleep in Weight Loss
Quality sleep is a fundamental pillar of a successful weight loss or weight gain journey. By focusing on getting adequate and restful sleep every night, you can maximize its benefits, along with the advantages brought by your diet and exercise efforts. Here's why sleep is crucial for weight loss:
- Sufficient sleep ensures the proper balance of hunger hormones. This helps control your appetite and reduces the likelihood of overeating, aiding in weight management.
- A good and restful sleep enables the body to recharge and regain energy that you can use in engaging in physical activities and workouts. Improved energy levels lead to more effective exercise sessions, contributing to weight loss.
- During sleep, the body undergoes essential processes for muscle repair and growth. Adequate rest allows muscles to recover and strengthens them for subsequent workouts.
- Sleep also plays a significant role in reducing stress. Since high-stress levels often lead to emotional eating and weight gain, it is best to manage your stress by getting sufficient sleep at night.
Sleep is a critical component of a successful weight loss and weight management journey. Whether you are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle, one of your priorities should be establishing good sleeping habits and practicing sleep hygiene consistently.
But what if you have tried everything and still suffer from disrupted sleep or insomnia? A major sleep disorder, often undiagnosed and untreated, that prevents us from getting restorative sleep, is associated with weight gain, and adversely affects our health, is sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea & How Does it Affect Weight Loss?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. Because sleep apnea disrupts the normal sleep cycle of an individual, it can lead to poor-quality sleep and excessive daytime fatigue. When this happens, it can hamper your ability to engage in physical activities and adhere to a healthy lifestyle. Just like sleep deprivation, sleep apnea can also significantly affect your weight loss efforts and overall health due to disrupted sleep patterns, hormonal imbalances, and metabolic effects.
Sleep apnea is also a cause or contributing factor in the development or incidence of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, irregular heartbeat, diabetes, and insulin resistance, and even brain damage from lack of oxygen that occurs during apnea episodes. Signs of this damage include memory problems, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, and moodiness, and sleep apnea can even increase your risk of developing dementia. Yikes!
If you are trying to lose or gain weight, but are suffering from sleep apnea, you should first focus on addressing and treating the underlying cause and sleep problem before exerting too much effort on dietary, fitness, and lifestyle changes.
On a personal level, I suffer from sleep apnea that went undiagnosed and untreated for two decades. Doctors for years brushed off my sudden onset insomnia (I was a power sleeper!) and chronic sleep deprivation as stress-related and told me to take a sedative or sleeping pill, when a far more sinister cause – sleep apnea - turned me from a power sleeper to chronic insomniac (nasal blockages and mold exposure the primary culprits in its development). The cumulative effects of sleep apnea on my body and health: insulin resistance, significant weight gain, metabolic and hormonal imbalances, irregular heartbeat, and a heart condition (well, genetics play a role too).
So, if you find yourself constantly waking up and/or gasping for air, or feel tired and unwell during waking hours, I highly recommend seeing a sleep or respiratory specialist who can diagnose and prescribe the proper treatment to manage sleep apnea.
Remember restorative sleep is a critical component not only in a successful weight loss and weight management journey, but also for overall good health and longevity.
I hope you find these blog tips helpful. Good luck and I wish you a restful night!