I touched upon this in my article on Body Recomposition, The Ultimate Guide to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of wellbeing. Sleep not only helps you gain muscle, but it can also help you lose fat. That is right, getting enough shut eye can help you lose weight.
What Does Science Say?
The evidence is clear, less sleep means weight gain. But we have a bit more direct proof. Studies have shown that men who sleep less, decrease physical activity. The less you sleep, the less you do. Another study, by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that when functioning on a great lack of sleep, women consume a diet far higher in calories and fat.
The studies show our worst fears are true. Sleep less. Eat More. Do less. The science digs deeper still. When you are sleep deprived your hormones go a little bit crazy. First your ghrelin levels spike, making you want to eat more. Your cortisol levels spike, due to stress from not sleeping, which makes you want to eat more. Your leptin levels also drop. Leptin tells your body to stop eating because you are full.
Ghrelin makes you hungry, Cortisol increases your appetite, and no Leptin means you will just keep eating. This is the perfect cocktail for binge eating. This is the worst case hormonal outcome for a dieter, all brought to you by not sleeping enough.
Science also says when you sleep you burn more calories. Your brain consumes glucose to function in REM sleep patterns, which means you are going through stores of energy. Not only does not enough sleep cause weight gain, enough sleep can also burn more calories.
How Much Sleep should I get to lose weight?
The studies on the optimal number of hours vary. Studies on optimal muscle building have been cited early on to recommend 8 – 10 hours of sleep. As time as progressed and sleep studies have progressed, for optimal health 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night are recommended. The science is stronger for 7 – 9 hours of sleep, but the myth of 8 – 10 hours is more prevalent.
The older you are, the less sleep you need. The recommendation is at least 7 hours of sleep. The recommendation is no more than 9 hours of sleep. Younger people should aim for closer to 9 hours, where older people can get away with 7. The reason is as we age, our bodies require less sleep for biological processes.
What if I can’t sleep?
I personally suffer from horrid insomnia. I have been this way for years. Since I was in college and boxing. I would often pull all-nighters to study, work and box. I eventually got a couple night jobs as well and this lasted for several years. By time I was done and in my mid-twenties, I was dependent on sleeping pills.
I have some real, first hand tips to get more sleep. First is, stop drinking soda or caffeine at least four hours before bed. Personally, five hours is better for me but four hours is what the research suggests. Also, relax! Put away all electronics and screen a couple hours before bed. Also, do not exercise before bed. I like it to relax, but the blood flow will keep you up.
Does Sleep Help You Lose Weight?
Absolutely yes. Not only does it help you burn calories when in REM sleep, it prevents your body from freaking out. Your hormones will go crazy if you do not sleep. This hormonal shift will lead to the perfect storm for binge eating. The stars align and the conditions are set for you to eat several cakes if you are not careful.
Sleep is more about feeling good, being healthy, and preventing the negatives which come from not sleeping. Not sleeping will make weight loss far more challenging. The lack of sleep will make your will power non-existing. Your work outs will suffer. At the end of the day, you will put in a lot more for less results. This is demotivating, and why most people quit dieting. Your odds of staying on a diet are far more likely by getting enough quality sleep. Without it, you are fighting an uphill battle. Does Sleep Help You Lose Weight? Absolutely.
Find all the resources used in this article and the scientific basis of all our article at The Science Behind Fitness.