America is a nation obsessed with weight loss. Each week seems to bring a brand new fad diet, new exercise, or new program guaranteed to help you lose weight. The connection between good sleeping habits and weight loss is almost never mentioned. But we know that sleep deprivation not only makes you feel tired and sluggish, it also affects how much you consume and how easily you can burn the energy off. A lack of quality sleep can make you hungrier and less able to burn off the extra calories you consume.
German and Swiss researchers investigated the effects of short-term sleep deprivation on hunger, physical activity, and energy used by the body. The research proved that participants were actually hungrier the day after a restless night. After a night of disruptive sleep, your body burns fewer calories at rest which means you have to work even harder when you exercise. The level of hunger could actually be noted by an increase in the “hunger hormone” in participants blood. The less sleep a participant got, the hungrier they were during the day. This means that you are more likely to snack and eat outside of regularly planned meals. Sleep loss also means burning fewer calories, so this could lead to actual weight gain.
Related research supports the idea that sleep is involved in the balance of our caloric consumption and how we burn it. Scientists are hopeful that a link can be found between sleep improvement and the treatment of various food-related problems such as obesity and diabetes. In the meantime remember that your journey of a thousand steps towards a healthier you doesn’t have to start with that first step. All you need to begin you journey is a good night’s sleep.