Life can be hectic, we may often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Throw lack of quality sleep into the mix and we can feel overwhelmed by the expectations that we set for ourselves. People may not realise there is a strong connection between not sleeping and not losing weight. If we are not getting enough sleep it can cause 2 problems; behavioural and metabolic.

Behavioural problems can occur when our energy levels are low from lack of sleep. We may turn to sugar to keep us active; both mentally and physically. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found sleep deprived individuals increased their late-night snacking and also were more likely to choose a high carbohydrate snack, as well as eating larger portions throughout the day. This is a behaviour that will sabotage any weight loss efforts and is in danger of becoming a habit if repeated. When you make it to the end of the day, after feeling like you were running on empty for the most part, you may be tempted to reward yourself with food and/or alcohol. This may be a subconscious thought and can so easily creep into your routine if you are not aware of it and be prepared to stop it.

The hormones responsible for appetite are altered when we are tired. For instance, leptin (the fullness hormone) decreases when we haven’t had sufficient sleep. This is why you may not feel satisfied when you’re tired. The hormone ghrelin which provides us with a signal to eat, increases when we are in need of sleep so you may find yourself being hungry more often. When this happens it’s vital to drink plenty of water and remind yourself this is a hunger resulting from tiredness. Your body is confused due to tiredness, food will not solve this problem.

Metabolism is severely affected when our sleep pattern is disrupted. Studies carried out at the University of Chicago found that their participant’s metabolism slowed down by 30% when sleep deprived. Their calorie intake remained the same but their fat loss decreased. The fat burning process can significantly be lowered resulting in a much slower weight loss. This can potentially cause a person to give up on their goals and feel like they cannot lose weight.

Your body requires approx. 7-8 hours sleep in order to function at its full potential. If you feel you could benefit from more sleep, aim to go to bed earlier, avoid electronic devices in the bedroom, and reduce your sugar and caffeine intake. These are only some suggestions to get you started. The solution to sleep deprivation depends on the cause, but you owe it to yourself to figure out what it is for you and how to change it.

Blog Post by Michael O'Brien