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Sleep Your Way to Your Goal Body

affects of lack of sleep on weight gain

Alright people, minds out of the gutter. This is serious business. I think anyone over the age of 10 understands how vital sleep is and its magical powers. So let's discuss one of sleep's magical powers. We're going to talk about how sleep affects your weight loss progress.


First, familiarize yourself with the word Ghrelin [ ghre·lin]. Ghrelin is commonly referred to as the "hunger hormone" and it regulates your appetite. When your stomach is empty, your body secretes ghrelin, when your stomach is full the flow of ghrelin stops. Another time your body secretes ghrelin is when you're sleep deprived. Yes, missing out on sleep makes you feel artificially hungry. Leptin [lep·tin], the "satiety hormone," does the complete opposite. It signals satiation, or the feeling of fullness. When you're sleep deprived, your satiating leptin levels plummet, leaving just your ghrelin hormone to communicate hunger to your brain.


Sleep deprivation impairs your body's insulin sensitivity. When your body doesn't properly respond to insulin, your blood sugar levels get too high. Also important is that your body struggles to process fat from the blood stream, and instead stores it on your body. A research study published to the annals of Internal Medicine found that just after four days of participants getting a mere 4.5 hours of sleep per night their insulin sensitivity was reduced by 16 percent and their fat cell's insulin sensitive was reduced by 30 percent. In short, sleep deprivation seriously diminishes your metabolism.

“This is the equivalent of metabolically aging someone 10 to 20 years just from four nights of partial sleep restriction. Fat cells need sleep, and when they don’t get enough sleep, they become metabolically groggy.”
— Matthew Brady, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago

Silk Sleep Mask by Purefly;


Cortisol is a more commonly known stress hormone that increases your appetite and desire to eat. High cortisol levels, combined with high insulin levels work together as super villains to affect your food preferences. So extended periods of stress can leave you craving high sugar and high fat foods, which inhibit parts of the brain that process stress emotions. It's essentially a hamster wheel of despair. Now how does this correlate with lack of sleep? Well, studies show that after just one night of either partial or complete sleep deprivation, cortisol levels in your blood can increase up to 45 percent.

Muscle Recovery

If you do manage to stick to your workout regimen while getting a precious few hours of sleep, your post workout recovery will be greatly diminished. Sleep deprivation reduces your body's natural ability to produce growth hormone, and protein synthesis. Eventually you will begin to notice a decline in performance.

To promote a more restful night's sleep, try removing your T.V. from the bedroom. Buy sunlight blocking curtains or a sleep mask. Save social media for your mornings, and read some books instead. The average adult needs between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep per night for optimal body function. So if you've been dieting and getting nowhere not only should you make sure your diet and workout are on point, but make sure you're getting enough sleep too.