Sleep is one of the things we can’t live without, yet one in three Americans report not getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep or low-quality sleep has been linked to poor dietary choices, increased risk of chronic diseases, and overall reduced well-being. Getting enough sleep for your weight loss journey is just as important.
What is sleep good for?
Research suggests sleep may help remove toxins from the brain that build up while we are awake. It helps with learning information, making memories, and regulating emotions.
How does sleep affect my food choices?
A lack of sleep may result in making poor food choices, eating too many calories, and a higher risk of being overweight or obese.
Why? Because it can increase ghrelin, decrease leptin or both. Increase in ghrelin means increase in hunger and appetite, while increase in leptin means an increase in satiety or fullness. Not having plenty of sleep also makes the brain more sensitive to food stimuli, such as smell and sights, which may make food more rewarding. Besides the complicated hormonal theories of why lack of sleep leads to overeating, less sleep means also more time awake, which means more time to eat.
How else can it affect me?
If you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which causes you to stop breathing for periods of time, or other sleep disorders, it may lead to decreased insulin sensitivity or reduced insulin production including increase of stress hormones, which also may increase sugar levels. Insulin naturally helps lower your blood sugars in the body. Insulin sensitivity means your body’s insulin is not working well to lower your sugars.
Over time, too much glucose (sugar) in the body can raise the risk of Type 2 diabetes. OSA also limits the oxygen in the body, which increases risk for strokes, heart attacks, and hypertension. Lack of sleep also keeps blood pressure higher for longer periods since blood pressure decreases while you sleep. This means higher risk for hypertension.
For adults, it’s recommended you get seven or more hours of good quality sleep each night, so keeping a regular, consistent schedule is good for your body's rhythm.