It’s hard to lose weight. We know that well in the US. Our culture of obesity means we’re facing a major health crisis.
As such, fad diets, shred workouts and medical procedures are all the rage. They offer a quick short-term solution. But without a full lifestyle overhaul, the weight always comes back.
The best kind of weight loss occurs when we lose weight naturally.
That’s because natural weight loss means our lifestyle is healthy. Who doesn’t want to improve their lifestyle for a long, healthier life with more energy? A long life means more time for the people and things we love.
A big part of having a long, healthier life is the quality of sleep we are getting at night. Most people don’t associate sleep with weight loss, but they really should.
Does Sleep Impact How We Lose Weight Naturally?
That’s the question we seek to address in this article. It’s no secret that when we don’t get enough sleep bad things happen.
But how many people really know about the connection between sleep and weight loss?
On the surface, it’s easy. Getting sleep sets you up to make good decisions about your day. Maybe after some serious shut eye, you’ll take a medium coffee or hot tea, instead of a venti latte with extra caramel sauce.
Maybe you’ll have the energy to cook a dinner that’s high in vitamins and minerals that inspire natural weight loss. Maybe you won’t get Chinese take out instead.
When you don’t sleep, you don’t have the clarity to make good decisions. Being under the influence of sleep deprivation is much like being under the influence of a substance. It affects all of your decisions.
That’s Just the Tip of the Iceberg
Maybe you’re thinking, “Okay, okay. I can see how a lack of sleep impacts some decision making, but not mine. I’m good to go!” But bad decision making is just the tip of the iceberg.
Even if you have the mental clarity to power through a tough day after sleep deprivation, there are things about not getting enough sleep that you can’t control. Namely, hormones.
Specifically, we’re talking about leptin and ghrelin. These hormones are critical in signaling hunger and fullness in the brain.
When you’re tired, your leptin plummets. And your body thinks it needs to eat more food to compensate.
To learn more about leptin and ghrelin we are going to look at them individually and the role they play in how we lose weight naturally.
Ghrelin (hormone) tells you it’s time to eat. The biological role of ghrelin is to prevent starvation and make sure you have the energy to get through the day.
If your stomach is empty, ghrelin is produced. But when your stomach stretches, presumably because you’ve eaten, the secretion of this hormone stops. Ghrelin helps to increase body mass.
When you only get a few hours of sleep and your body is tired, your ghrelin spikes.
That’s not a recipe to lose weight naturally. It’s a recipe to gain weight fast. Long story short, if you wake up tired from sleep deprivation, you’re going to be hungrier than you would otherwise.
We know when you don’t get sleep, you eat more due to ghrelin. But what’s up with leptin? What role does it play in our quest to lose weight naturally?
Well, leptin is also known as the “satiety hormone”.
We need leptin to ensure we don’t overeat. It shares the same receptor in the brain as ghrelin. And when the ghrelin stops secreting, leptin takes its place to tell us we’ve had enough.
But when we are sleep deprived we also deprive our bodies of leptin. Because the hormone plummets far below normal levels.
So What Does That Mean?
The combination of high ghrelin and low leptin means we wake up hungry and have trouble feeling full. The result is overeating.
Overeating leads to weight gain.
So if you have one or two days like this a month, you might be alright. But if you consistently lose sleep, you are playing a dangerous game of Wack-A-Mole with the hormones that help you make good decisions about food.
Eating the kind of carby meals you might choose when your decision making is impaired by lack of sleep increases leptin.
Now you may be thinking, “Well, that’s great! If I don’t get a lot of sleep, I’ll just carbo-load in the morning to get my leptin back up for the rest of the day!”
But that’s not good either because playing with your leptin levels can increase the likelihood of leptin-resistance. And leptin-resistance means you have a hard time getting full. It’s a tell-tale precursor to insulin resistance which is linked to diabetes.
Enter Cortisol, Stage Right
And just when you’ve had enough of these hormones tearing down your weight loss goals, enter cortisol. Cortisol is “the stress hormone” that induces a fight or flight response when we are anxious.
Cortisol hormone plays a key role in retaining belly fat and obesity. Studies show that sleep loss results in elevated levels of cortisol that can impact your ability to lose weight naturally.
High cortisol in the evening actually makes it difficult to fall asleep.
You read that right. Lack of sleep affects your cortisol levels the next evening making it harder to go to bed at night. So don’t start yourself down that vicious cycle that results in tiredness and obesity.
The Quick Fix
Ok, so there’s never an effective quick fix to natural weight loss. But there is a quick fix to ending sleep deprivation. Go to bed early and sleep all night through.
If you think you may be stuck in the cycle of sleep deprivation and poor food choices, make an appointment to see your doctor or chiropractor. Look for other natural ways to go to sleep early. You can even download apps on your iPhone or Android that help you sleep.
No excuses. If you want to lose weight naturally and live a healthy, happy life start with your sleep cycle. Because everything’s connected.
If you don’t believe me, head to our website for before and after photos that will change your mind about natural weight loss.