How & Why Sleep Will Make You Lose Weight

Five hours per night, I was not getting enough sleep last year.

So I made an effort to sleep one and a half hours more each night.

Three weeks later, I saw a surprising connection: I had lost two kilos.

It turns out that I am not alone. A recent study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion is only the latest to confirm that people who get enough and consistent sleep are more likely to lose weight (and maintain a healthy weight).

But why?

What’s the link between sleep & weight

A good night’s sleep, it turns out, helps you lose weight in many ways.

For one, you’ll burn more calories when you get enough sleep. That’s because most calories burn during REM sleep – and that is the phase that you cut back most when you sleep too little.

And sleep doesn’t just work its magic during the night. Here are two examples of how too little sleep affects you during the day:

1. You store more fat

How long you sleep influences the amount of insulin you produce as you eat. Sleep too little and you may produce too much of it. In the right amount, insulin is a good thing: it rids your blood of excess sugar. But too much insulin will convert more sugar into fat than necessary.

2. You produce more hunger hormones

Source: BodyMedia
Source: BodyMedia

Ghrelin and Leptin are two hormones that regulate our appetite. Ghrelin signals to your brain that you are hungry. Leptin does the opposite: it tells you when you’ve had enough. Studies show that sleep-deprived people produce more ghrelin and less leptin. And that means: you are more likely to continue eating even though you’re full.

As with most such findings, these things don’t work the same way for everybody and I cannot tell just how much they helped me lose my two kilos.

Small choices

But this I do know: the more I slept, the better I felt.

And the better I felt, the better I took care of myself. Not that I changed anything major. It’s the small choices that were easier now:

  • it was easier to eat fruit in the morning.
  • it was easier to eat a salad at lunch.
  • it was easier to get off the sofa in the evening.

Now I can’t pride myself of doing the right things all the time.

But a good night’s sleep gave me the right mood to do the right things, at least more often. And that I think is the secret behind my Magical Mystery Cure.

What does a good night’s sleep do for you? You can leave a comment below.

And if you are wondering how much sleep you should be getting, check out our tips here and here .

Image credit: Howard Dickins

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CEO & Co-founder of Addapp. I love tracking, coffee, anything cooked
by my mom, startups, and quantified self.

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