Short Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain

Inadequate night sleep makes weight management very difficult. Adults who sleep less than seven hours have significantly more excess pounds than those who sleep more than seven hours.

Sleep studies have found that partial or complete sleep deprivation raises cortisol or stress hormone levels in subjects, interferes with glucose metabolism, and increases appetite. Despite this, we can’t for sure say that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between a short night’s sleep and obesity. Yet, poor sleepers have, on average, more difficulty controlling their weight than well-sleepers.

Studies have shown that adults who sleep less than seven hours are significantly more overweight than those who sleep more than seven hours. The same observation applies to children.

In Canada, 12–13-hour-olds were compared with 5–to 10-year-olds who slept less. Those who slept for 10.5–11.5 hours were 1.5 times more likely to be overweight than those who slept for longer, and those who slept for 8–10 hours were 3.5 times more likely. Of course, behaviors and bad habits are drivers of weight gain as well and can partially be the cause of the study results.

Can inadequate sleep lead to diabetes?

With too little sleep, the body’s ability to process carbohydrates deteriorates—metabolism changes towards a diabetic direction.

It is thought that a short night’s sleep would contribute to an increased risk of diabetes. As the body’s two key metabolic hormones, leptin, and ghrelin flutter, appetite increases. A person who is continuously tired may, therefore, find it difficult to control their eating.

It becomes important to get adequate sleep every night. However, there is no unambiguous definition of what is enough sleep. One can do it in five hours, the other needs ten. The amount of night you need can be deduced from whether you feel fresh the next day or not. Everyone is an expert on their own unique sleep requirement.

Five tips for better sleep

  • Try to sleep about the same amount every night, even on weekends.
  • Keep the bedroom suitably fresh, darkened, and quiet.
  • Avoid stimulants before going to bed, especially coffee.
  • Get a good bed.
  • Do not exercise or strain for 2-3 hours before going to bed.

How you find the motivation to lose weight

Improving your sleep is one way to make losing weight easier, but it’s rarely enough by itself. Exercise and nutrition are the cornerstones of weight loss. Still, unlike sleep, they often require copious amounts of motivation to change. It might be beneficial to dig into your hopes, dreams, and personal weaknesses and things that would make you ready to lose weight.

You should ask yourself if I am satisfied with being overweight or changing my life in a healthier direction. The motives for weight loss are different. For some, it may be necessary, for example, that the clothes fit better. While for other, it might be more important to live longer.

Start with small changes in your daily behavior. When changing your behavior toward a healthier one, it is important to experiment to find the healthy practices that are best for you. What works for one might not work for another. One person leaves the evening punch and takes the workplace stairs instead of the elevator. Another person cycles to work instead of taking the bus.

The important thing is to choose a few things that you think you can do for extended periods of time. The goal is a lasting change in life, not a quick fix. Too strict a diet or fitness program will quickly quench your enthusiasm. At the same time, even small positive results can further fuel your motivation.

For some people, measuring everything can motivate them to keep on track. Some might measure their weight almost daily and record their waist circumference, calories, or kilometers walked at least occasionally.

It may sound funny, but measuring and tabulating makes a weight management project more meaningful. The readings concretely show how your weight project is progressing.

Plan your shopping & prepare to make sacrifices

Another way to stay in line is to be systematic. Most grocery shopping decisions, for example, are made in the store. Introduction a shopping list can lead to fewer impulse purchases.

Weight management also requires refusal, even sacrifices. If you crave sweets, you may not be able to replace it with anything. You just have to learn to tolerate and control your thoughts. You can’t always get everything.

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Perttu Lähteenlahti
Cognitive Scientist, Co-founder of Nyxo