When it comes to losing weight, there’s no doubt that diet and exercise are key. Even our own Physiomed 90-Day Weight Loss Challenge has diet and exercise, along with patient education and on-going support, as key components. However, while these are obviously critical factors, there is another very important, and often overlooked, factor for achieving weight loss success. That factor is sleep and here’s why it matters:
When our bodies don’t get enough rest, they start to produce increased amounts of cortisol and ghrelin, which causes us to want to take in more calories. Cortisol, often referred to as the “stress hormone”, increases our perception of stress; something which many of us respond to by eating more. Ghrelin, meanwhile, is often referred to as the “appetite hormone”, because it makes us feel hungry and increases our desire for higher calorie foods. As you can imagine, this is a potentially dangerous combination for anyone looking to lose weight.
RECOVERY & RE-ENERGIZING:
In addition to changing our bio-chemistry, not getting enough sleep also prevents our bodies from recovering and re-energizing after the physical stress of exercise. While we sleep, our bodies are busy repairing muscles and blood cells (among other things). Not having the necessary time for recovering and re-energizing makes it both physically and psychologically more difficult to stick with the exercise component of any weight loss program.
ACTIVITY LEVELS & SNACKING:
Finally, when we’re tired, we tend to engage in more sedentary activities such as watching TV or sitting in front of a computer. Of course, this kind of passive activity is often accompanied by snacking. While healthy snacking is possible, the reality is that the increased ghrelin in our systems means that this snacking is likely to include junk food (or at least heavier, higher calorie foods).
If you’ve made a resolution to lose weight this year, whether on your own, with a program or even by taking part in the Physiomed 90-Day Weight Loss Challenge, make sure you pay attention to the quality and quantity of sleep you’re getting each night. Otherwise, you’ll be sabotaging your own efforts. Good luck!