If you are trying to lose weight, you might be prepared with a diet plan and a refrigerator full of healthy foods. You also might dust off your sneakers, slide into bike shorts, and resolve to step on the scale. However, in addition to replacing your burgers with salads, you might want to consider splurging on new pillows and sheets. Why the focus on sleep? According to data collected by Withings, sleep may be essential to weight loss success. Learn how sleep duration, quality, and timing can all have an effect on your weight:
- Lack of sleep can affect overeating. Reduced sleep can impair your body’s ability to produce the hormone leptin, which makes you feel full after a meal.
- Not sleeping enough can increase your appetite. Sleep deprivation leads to an increase in the production of the hunger-inducing hormone, ghrelin. This can be a double-whammy in attempts to curb your appetite or reduce caloric intake.
- Feeling tired can stimulate the need to eat food. Too little sleep can affect the part of the brain that is responsible for recognizing food as a source of pleasure, which means the food you do consume feels even better when you are tired.
- There is a strong correlation between body mass index (BMI) and sleep duration. A Withings study found that BMI influences sleep duration: 66.5% of users who slept an average of less than 7 hours a night were overweight.
- Sleep habits can also determine the success of weight loss goals. Studies have shown overweight people who slept at least an average of 7 hours were more successful in losing weight. In fact, they achieved 25% more weight loss than their overweight peers who slept less than five hours.
- Sleep interruptions can throw off your fitness plan. Withings found that the more sleep interruptions a user experienced, the less active they were the following day. Users who had only 0–1 interruptions at night walked 30% more than users with 8–9 interruptions.
- “Make-up sleep” can also negatively affect weight loss. Overweight people sleeping at least one hour more on weekends than during the week are generally less successful in losing weight. On average, they logged a weight loss of 1.3 lbs. over the year, compared to 2.2 lbs. lost by those who maintained regular sleep patterns.
So, whether you are looking to maintain weight or reach a new weight loss goal – make sure to develop a sound sleep plan in addition to dieting and exercise regiments. Starting with the National Sleep Foundation guidelines of 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for healthy adults can be the first step in a successful path towards a healthier lifestyle.