Have you ever wondered whether a lack of sleep can cause weight gain?
Are you stuck trying to figure out why you’re gaining weight? Or why it’s so difficult to lose those extra kilos that just seemed to sneak up on you despite not changing your diet or exercise habits?
This is often referred to as Weight Loss Resistance – and it’s exactly how it sounds: weight that just won’t budge no matter what you do!
Here’s one surprising reason why you might be gaining weight or experiencing weight loss resistance: lack of good quality, restorative sleep.
In fact, there are actually science-backed reasons why a lack of sleep can be a strong contributing factor to not being able to maintaining a healthy weight.
Why Lack of Sleep Causes Weight Gain
If you thought unsightly dark circles under the eyes were the worst outcome from cutting corners on sleep, you may want to think again.
Sleep is of the utmost importance to nearly every bodily system and losing out on it, even just a little, creates a vicious cycle in your body.
For example, where a healthy body weight may be of concern, the more sleep deprived you are, the higher your levels of stress hormone (cortisol) will be. This tends to result in an increase your appetite.
Then, once the appetite is increased, a lack of sleep also thwarts your body’s natural ability to process sugar and carbohydrates – which of course is what you’re craving after a crappy night’s sleep!
Additionally, when you’re overtired, the mitochondria (little cellular factories that turn food and oxygen into energy = metabolism centers) actually start to shut down. This causes glucose to stay in your blood, and you end up with high blood sugar levels.
Insulin is a hormone whose job it is to signal the body’s muscle, fat, and liver cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream to be used for energy. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that skimping on sleep can cause fat cells to become less insulin-sensitive by up to 30%. This means they lose their ability to use insulin properly.
And that isn’t even the worst of it!
Research says that just 30 minutes of lost sleep per day could make you more likely to gain.
Sleep could arguably be the most important you can do if you’re ready to start a new health overhaul – and the first step is to make sleep a priority – especially if you’re over 40!
Once we start approaching menopause (i.e. peri-menopause) we often start experiencing sleep disturbances, which brings all of the risk factors we’ve just discussed. On top of that we also become:
- more sensitive to sugar and carbohydrates, and
- we stop storing adipose fat (fat under the skin all over the body) and
- start storing visceral fat (fat around our organs – hello thicker waistline).
Think of a lady in her 60’s or beyond that you know and love, perhaps your mum or grandma. Think how her body has changed over the past 10 or 20 years. She is likely to now have thinner arms and legs, thinner face and bonier hands, thanks to a decrease in adipose fat. Any extra weight she carries is likely to be around her mid section due to an increase of visceral fat.
One way to reduce that chain reaction is to improve your sleep.
Sleep is a priority and something that I always discuss with my Real Girls. It is REALLY that IMPORTANT.
Sleeping isn’t just a time to rest — you’re actually nourishing your body just as you are when you’re eating healthy foods. It may require some behavioral and mindset shifts on your part, but your body (and waistline) will thank you.