Sleep is essential for losing weight: what spoils it and how to improve it
Sleep doesn’t seem to be as effective as high-intensity interval cardio or good pre-workout technique. But research has proven that it is just as important as exercise and nutrition.
Even with poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle, a person can live to be 70 or more. However, only 10 days can be awake (the world record is 11 days!) Research has shown that poor sleep is the most serious risk factor for heart disease and obesity. Sleep deprivation also affects your fitness, making it much harder to burn fat, improve performance, and build muscle.
Unsurprisingly, the world’s obesity rate is on the rise. The quality and quantity of our sleep has been deteriorating over the past 20-30 years. Added to this was a shift in falling asleep time, decreased activity, and consumption of processed, energy-poor food. All these factors speak for themselves. For weight loss, it is worth adding extra hours of sleep to healthy eating habits.
How poor sleep affects fat gain
Although the amount varies from study to study, sleep less than 8-9 hours is considered insufficient. There are many consequences of poor sleep – decreased performance, decreased immunity, fatigue, weight gain. The latter is influenced by many factors, ranging from changes in metabolism to general fatigue, which affects lifestyle and eating habits.
- Increased fatigue: Leads to decreased physical activity and calorie expenditure.
- Changes in brain function: Sleep deprivation affects the nervous system, especially the brain, increasing calorie intake.
- Increased levels of ghrelin: This is a peptide hormone that makes you feel hungry. It increases your appetite, encourages you to eat more, and slows down the formation of healthy habits.
- Decreased leptin levels: This hormone signals the brain to be full and to stop eating. When it’s low, you keep eating, even if you’re not hungry.
- More processed foods: Studies have shown that the desire to eat foods rich in carbohydrates and fats depends on the quality of sleep. In one study, this figure rose by 33% as a consequence of lack of sleep.
- Increased hunger and appetite: In addition to hormonal changes, studies have found that sleep deprivation increases both.
- Reduced training efficiency. Not only the desire to exercise disappears, but also the overall quality of physical activity. This will drastically reduce muscle growth, overall duration, and gym work. All of these factors are key to fitness.
- Decreased carbohydrate metabolism. Poor quality sleep also affects glucose (blood sugar) processing. This means you can gain more fat from your regular meal.
- Decreased insulin sensitivity: This factor has been linked to muscle growth, health, disease, and fat loss. Research has shown that high insulin sensitivity directly affects fat loss and muscle gain.
- More Eating Opportunities: While this sounds obvious, if you sleep less, you will spend more time awake. This increases the number of meals you eat, which leads to weight gain.
- Decreased immune system function: Even one night of sleep deprivation can hit your immune system. This will lead to more frequent illness and slower recovery from exercise, especially when combined with a low-carb diet.
- Decreased testosterone levels: This anabolic hormone is already severely lowered in today’s men. Low levels are a common health problem associated with poor lifestyle choices and sleep deprivation. Low testosterone increases fat gain and muscle loss.
- Increased inflammation, impaired digestion. This is due to factors of decreased metabolism, a decrease in the number of beneficial bacteria. This condition can lead to obesity and other more serious illnesses.
As you can see, the mechanisms of weight gain are closely related to poor quality sleep. All the consequences can be solved by regular, long sleep. For example, 8 hours or more of uninterrupted sleep improves insulin sensitivity, normalizes hormones, improves exercise performance, strengthens the digestive system, and reduces hunger.
12 factors that improve sleep quality
There are many strategies for getting quality, long-lasting sleep. By following simple principles, you will be able to get enough sleep and gradually begin to lose more weight.
- Watch out for stimulants. Stop taking them before 2-3 pm. Stimulants include caffeine, cigarettes, adaptogens, and pre-workout complexes.
- Reduce the amount of blue light spectrum. It makes your brain think that it is still day and you shouldn’t sleep. In the evening, 60 minutes before bedtime, eliminate blue light sources – laptop, phone, tablet and TV.
- Block out blue light. If you can’t live without technology, or need to work late, take action. Download Flux to your PC / laptop, put on your orange glasses, download blue light blockers to your smartphone / tablet.
- Keep track of your last meal. Eating too much before bed can affect your circadian rhythm – you won’t be able to sleep. If you are hungry, it is also difficult to fall asleep. Eat a light protein meal about 90 minutes before bed.
- Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time. Make it a goal to be in bed a few minutes before bed each night. This will improve the quality and duration of uninterrupted sleep.
- Exercise. Good exercise improves sleep quality and plays a key role in weight loss.
- Read books. This is a popular way to fall asleep faster. Go to bed and read a book 30 minutes before falling asleep.
- Relax. This is another way to get to sleep sooner. Take a hot bath, light candles, turn on soft music, meditate, take notes in a notebook – find your point of relaxation.
- Eliminate noise. Make sure you sleep without annoying sounds. If this is not possible, use earplugs to sleep.
- Exclude light. A dark room without artificial light sources improves sleep. Turn off the backlight in all devices, turn off the TV, lower the blinds / blinds / curtains.
- Temperature. Make sure the temperature in the room is constant, slightly cool for you.
- Eat some healthy carbs. They increase the levels of neurotransmitters needed for relaxation. 90 minutes before bed, add slow carbohydrates to your protein.
Supplements to improve sleep
By combining all of the above points with one of these supplements, you are sure to get deep, restful sleep. As with all active supplements, read the instructions before taking and consult your doctor. This is especially true of antidepressants that affect the state of the brain and nervous system.
What about supplements?
There are several supplements that have been scientifically proven to work. They increase relaxation and the duration of the deep sleep phase. They contain components that are safe, natural for the body, if the dosage and the principle of administration are observed. In any case, heed the warnings.
- Melatonin. Take 3-6 mg 30 minutes before bed. Use only if you have component portability.
- Magnesium or ZMA. Magnesium relaxes the central nervous system. Take 300-500 mg 30 minutes before bedtime. ZMA works the same, but more strongly, contains zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6.
- GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) acts as a neurotransmitter that relaxes the central nervous system. Take 500-1000 mg immediately before bed.
- 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan, oxytriptan). This supplement increases levels of serotonin, a hormone responsible for mood, normalization of the day-night cycle and relaxation. Take 300 mg at bedtime.
Test the tolerance of the supplement and take 1 drug at a time. Adjust your lifestyle first, then try supplements to improve your sleep. Healthy habits are more effective in improving weight loss and alertness than taking special ingredients.