Have you ever wondered why despite your best efforts to include a healthy diet and exercise in your life, you have not been able to shed weight? Insufficient nighttime sleep, which means 7 hours or less, can cause gradual but severe damage to your health on several fronts.
A stationary weight that refuses to budge, notwithstanding your genuine attempts at maintaining otherwise good health, is a clear giveaway that you are sleeping less.
A case in point is Nitesh, a media person with odd working hours and an erratic eating schedule. The health-conscious 35-year-old made sure to stay away from junk food and went for a run, his favorite exercise whenever possible. However, his weight remained the same and only veered towards the higher side on the weighing scale.
Disappointed with the weight stalemate, he consulted a dietitian who put forth a series of questions before him. The dietitian figured out that he was not sleeping for more than 4-5 hours at a stretch because he worked in rotational shifts that messed up his daily schedule.
How inadequate sleep affects our body and reduces our chance to lose weight, find out below.
Due to a lack of sleep, our body fails to metabolize food properly and instead experiences a rise in insulin levels. There is a spike in cortisol levels, signaling the body to store fat as conserved energy. Studies say that within as little as four days of inadequate sleep, our body's ability to process insulin gets disturbed and our metabolism starts slowing down.
CHANGES IN HORMONES
When you deprive yourself of sleep, there is an increase in the levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and a decrease in the levels of the satiety-inducing hormone leptin in your body. This makes you hungrier and craves foods rich in fat and carbohydrates, putting our weight loss efforts up for a toss.
REDUCES THE GROWTH HORMONE
The Human growth hormone, a protein produced by the pituitary gland, is released into the bloodstream during deep undisturbed sleep. It works to restore and repair the bodily muscles. When you don't get enough sleep for many days, this hormone gets repressed, impacting your stamina and metabolism.
PRONE TO SNACKING AT NIGHT
You're far more likely to reach out for that bag of chips or ice cream tub to satisfy your cravings if you're awake till late in the night. When your intake of calories is high late evening or at night, it gets stored as fat in your body, making your weight more challenging. Also, late-night snack choices are usually unhealthy and, thus, detrimental to your weight loss goals.
LESS LIKELY TO WORK OUT
When you do not get enough sleep, your body is not rested adequately. With not much energy and stamina left within you, you are likely to ditch your workout regime. A good night's sleep is also crucial to help your body recover following exercise. With a lack of sleep, your performance during a workout gets impacted.
INCREASES STRESS AND DEPRESSION
When you have a sleep deficit, you start exhibiting tendencies of stress, irritability, and mood swings. Studies suggest that people who slept less than five hours per night for a week reported feeling sad, angry, and anxious. Such psychological issues can lead you to make unhealthy food choices. Besides, stress and depression can elevate the cortisol levels resulting in fat building up in the stomach area.
CAN CAUSE DISEASES
There is a strong correlation between chronic sleep deprivation and the incidence of various diseases and health ailments. A lack of sleep affects your immune system, making you prone to fall prey to cold and other common viral illnesses. An extended period of sleep deprivation gives rise to severe problems such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and high blood pressure. While sleeping, your body heals itself and releases protective antibodies. Without enough sleep, your risk of contracting chronic problems grows multifold.
Understandably, it can be challenging to get enough shut-eye every night as we have to face different challenges daily. Amidst our domestic responsibilities, professional commitments, and social obligations, our sleep schedule goes off track. But to have a healthy and fit life and keep excess weight off, we have to make our sleep a huge priority.
OneFitPlus recommends a few handy ways that can help you get a good night's sleep:
HAVE A SLEEP SCHEDULE
Try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Even on weekends, do not disturb this routine. It's best not to disrupt our circadian rhythm, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle every 24 hours. An unregulated sleep-wake cycle makes people prone to diabetes, gastrointestinal upsets, obesity, etc. We can reset our circadian rhythm by fixing a regular sleep schedule and religiously abiding by it.
LIMIT DAYTIME NAPS
We should limit our daytime napping to not more than 30 minutes. The longer we nap during the day, the more it affects our chances to sleep on time at night. Also, we should try not to nap late in the day.
CREATE A COMFORTABLE ENVIRONMENT
The bedroom environment plays a key role in a sound and restful sleep that rejuvenates our mind and body. Choose a comfortable mattress and pillows that best cushion your body for restorative sleep. Reduce clutter from your room, install dim night lights, keep a stable but cool temperature and add some relaxing scent to your environment. And above all, switch off all electronics (TV, smartphones, tablets) that emit blue light, which reduces melatonin- the sleep-inducing hormone in our body and keeps us awake.
EXERCISE EVERY DAY
Include some form of physical activity during the day that will not just work your body muscles but will tire you out so that you can fall asleep quickly. Studies show that exercise improves both the quality and duration of our sleep. Regular exercise reduces the risk of developing disorders such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
Too much stress and anxiety can cause insomnia and other sleep disorders. Lack of sleep further exacerbates your stress levels, and so, it becomes a vicious cycle that impacts both our physical and mental well-being. You can effectively deal with stress and anxiety through mindfulness and other relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing, in addition to taking a hot bath, sipping herbal tea, and reducing screen time before hitting the bed.
AVOID HEAVY MEALS AND CAFFEINE.
It's advisable not to eat too heavily or go hungry to bed. In both cases, we might feel uncomfortable and spoil our chances of sleeping well. Try to eat a healthy and balanced diet a few hours before hitting the bed. A warm glass of milk containing dopamine-inducing vitamin B12 and zinc is recommended at bedtime to help you sleep faster.
We must avoid having caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine before bedtime. Caffeine can stimulate our system and may cause sleep disruption.
With age, the amount of sleep you need keeps changing. But as a general rule, adults need between 7 to 9 hours of quality uninterrupted sleep. At OneFitPlus, we place tremendous value on a good sleep cycle in our customized modules for customers.
We feel that your sleep plays a significant role in your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Remember, less sleep and weight loss do not go together. Asleep backlog will always be a deterrent to your weight loss goals. Hence, we recommend maintaining sleep hygiene and a healthy diet and exercise regime to shed extra weight and stay fit.