If you search online for motivational quotes about dieting, you’ll likely come across the popular saying: “Abs are made in the kitchen.”
While dieting is more important for your health than exercise, there’s another place many people overlook that is vital for your abs, and for all aspects of your health: your bed.
Without at least seven hours of good, quality sleep each night, your diet and exercise regimens won’t be as effective, and your body and mind will suffer because of it.
Sleep Debt Hurts Your Dieting Efforts
No amount of willpower in the world will help you overcome your food cravings if you’re not getting enough sleep. The cravings that come with sleep deprivation are chemical and hormonal, and not just effects of habit.
Mo’ Ghrelin, Mo’ Problems: Sleep Debt Hurts Metabolism
Not getting enough sleep produces more ghrelin, which is also known as the Hunger Hormone. Not to be confused with gremlins, ghrelin was first discovered and successfully cloned in 1996.
Essentially, ghrelin makes you hungry and makes you burn calories at a lower rate, which affects your metabolism.
Sleep Debt = Fullness Debt
Sleep debt also lessens the production of leptin, a hormone made in the fat cells that helps you feel full. The less leptin you have, the hungrier you are. If you have too little leptin in your system, the reward centers of your brain are activated, prompting you to eat more.
Simply put, if you’re not making leptin, you’re going to get hangry, and the recent addition of the word “hangry” to the Oxford Dictionary shouldn’t be an excuse.
So now, despite your best intentions, you have two hormones working against you, and all because you didn’t get enough sleep. This makes weight loss that much harder.
Sleep Deprivation Causes You to Make Poor Eating Decisions
Exhaustion Affects Decision-Making
Sleep deprivation affects the frontal lobe of the brain, which is in charge of complex decision-making. This is why no one makes good decisions when they’re exhausted; in fact, research shows that driving drowsy could be as dangerous as drunk driving.
It also makes it that much harder to remind yourself that you’re trying to stay away from certain foods.
Sleep Debt Increases Your Desire for Rewards
Lack of sleep also increases activity in the amygdala, which is the reward center of your brain. This will increase your desire for tasty foods that are bad for dieting, and you won’t have the willpower to say that these are not the cakes you’re looking for.
Not Enough Sleep? Not Enough Food
When you’re tired, you’re also likely to eat larger portions of all types of food. This might not be so bad if you were eating broccoli and Brussel sprouts, but remember, exhaustion is already making you eat things you’re trying to stay away from. And now you’ll eat more of it.
Get At Least Seven Hours of Sleep Each Night
The truth is, the amount of sleep you need might be different from your best friend, or your boss, or your partner. Some adults need only six hours, while other adults need nine hours.
Usually, though, a good rule of thumb is to get at least seven hours of sleep each night so that you make the best eating decisions, eat less, and let your body produce the hormones it needs to while you rest.
You Can’t Make Up the Sleep Deficit
Remember that seven hours of sleep each night is not the same thing as 49 hours of sleep each week. When you lose sleep during the week it is called a sleep debt, meaning the loss of needed hours of sleep.
You can’t pay back a sleep debt. You can’t get four hours of sleep Monday through Friday, and think you can get 12-15 hours of sleep a day on the weekends to make up for it. Your body needs to regenerate each night, requiring typically seven hours.
For weight loss success and health, make it a priority to get the sleep you need each night.
Get Enough Sleep to Lose Weight Quickly
In short, get enough sleep each night (usually at least seven hours) so that your diet has a chance to be successful. Getting good, quality sleep increases metabolism, decreases hunger, and helps you make better eating decisions.