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Nutrition: The Benefits of Sleep

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Women in bed under covers
Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

How does sleep affect weight loss?

Losing weight can be challenging as can keeping it off. And there are many additional ways, outside of what we eat and drink, that can help us reach and maintain our goal, but did you know that one of these is how much, and what kind of quality sleep we get?

Yes, it’s true that resting more (and better), can help you manage your weight more successfully.

Whilst the scientific community is still trying to understand the complicated relationship between sleep and body weight, there is emerging evidence that not only does a good night’s rest contribute towards better weight management and more successful weight loss, conversely sleep deprivation can actually negatively impact this and result in weight gain over time.

And although sleep restriction overall increases energy expenditure because of increased wakefulness, it can also lead to a disproportionate increase in food intake, decrease in physical activity, and weight gain.

What we know from epidemiological studies (large observational studies involving lots of people) is that there is a direct association between decreased sleep and increased incidence of type two diabetes, cardiovascular disease and weight gain in general with numerous studies showing that self-reported sleep of less than 6-7 h per night is associated with increased incidence of these.

And to add insult to injury, whilst reduced sleep over time is clearly detrimental, even a single night of partial sleep restriction is sufficient to reduce insulin sensitivity, which in turn affects the body’s ability to properly handle glucose, which in turn has knock-on effects of appetite (increased) and fat metabolism (more fat storage than utilisation).

Really not great news!

So what are some tips for improving your sleep quality, which can help you in your weight loss journey?

First of all, keeping a regular sleep schedule is a beneficial thing to do. Try to always go to bed and wake at the same time, each day, if you can. The odd lie-in might feel good after a particularly late night (and on rare occasions won’t do you any harm), but consistent sleep patterns are shown to improve sleep quality overall and prevent disruptive changes in metabolism like decreased insulin sensitivity and increased hunger. Try to sleep in a dark room and of course reduce white light exposure before bed.

Turning off all electronic devices and engaging in a calming activity like yoga, or reading before bed, can help you nod off in a timely fashion and prevent disruption from too much, unnecessary light which accompanies other activities.

If you feel peckish before bed, try to have a drink instead and avoid eating those late-night calories. Not that late-night calories are inherently worse, but the body handles them differently, and eating late at night can actually make you feel hungrier upon waking.

Try to reduce stress by engaging in mindfulness activities which can help you feel more relaxed and thus more likely have a restful sleep.

Discover more about our approach to mindfulness and our product range at LighterLife.

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