You will love this simple fix to lose weight!

Sleep and weight. What’s the connection between these seemingly unrelated factors, you might ask? A combination of 30 studies published in 2008 shows a consistent increased risk of obesity amongst short sleepers in adults. 

Another study looked at 60,000 non-obese nurses for 16 years. It showed that the nurses who slept 5 hours or less per night were 15% more likely to be obese than those who slept at least seven hours.

So, how does this even happen? An extensive study from Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care shows that sleep loss results in metabolic and endocrine alterations, including decreased glucose tolerance, reduced insulin sensitivity, and changes in ghrelin and leptin (hunger hormones) that lead to increased appetite. As you can see, there are all these changes to how our body operates that, in the end, result in excess weight we don’t even notice. 

Moreover, the Obesity journal published a trial proving that lack of sleep decreases our Resting metabolic rate. This means that even when you’re at rest, aka sitting on the couch, your body burns fewer calories than usual just by existing. 

But that’s not all. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that lack of sleep also modifies how the brain responds to stimuli. Specifically, there was an increase in brain activity in areas associated with reward. In other terms, if you’re sleep-deprived and see a donut, there’s a very high chance you won’t be able to resist it.

And last but not least, think of those days when you wake up and go about your day. How do you feel? Energized and ready to tackle new tasks? Yeah, didn’t think so. Being sleep deprived makes you tired and possibly a little weak, and the last thing on your mind is a go-getter attitude. And what about exercise? What about the weight loss program you committed to? 

Bottom line: if you don’t sleep enough, chances are, you carry around a few (or some) extra pounds. 

Thankfully, this might be the easiest (and most enjoyable) habit to modify. I found that most of my sleep deprivation comes from staying up late, and not from waking up early. Simply set the time you go to bed every night and stick to it. Having a consistent schedule is extremely helpful in staying on track with your sleep and your weight loss!