Between getting up early, working all day, fitting in errands and a workout, making dinner and trying to relax… going to bed early and getting 8 hours of sleep seems almost impossible. But when your goal is to lose weight or maintain your health and youth, sleep is far more important than you may think. Can you really sleep your way to slender and health? Maybe.
Losing Water vs. Fat
40% of American’s don’t get enough shut-eye every night. Groggy mornings and cranky attitudes aren’t the only side effects of sleep deprivation. Turns out, missing out on sleep can also lead to weight issues. If you’re trying to shed a few pounds, sleeping could be almost as important as getting to the gym. A study found that when dieters got enough sleep, roughly 7-8 hours, more than half of the weight they lost was fat. But, when dieters got less than 5-6 hours of sleep, only a fourth of their weight loss was fat.
Snacks on Snacks
Sure, you can cure that sleepiness with coffee. But is it actually helping? You may be more awake, and possibly jittery, but your brain tends to function differently when you’re lacking sleep. Not sleeping enough can also make you crave food you normally wouldn’t. Leptin is a hormone that is made in your fat cells. The less leptin you produce, the hungrier you feel. Less than 6 hours of sleep can trigger the area in your brain that increases your need for food. The hungrier you feel, the more you eat, and these aren’t always the healthiest of choices. You don’t have the mental clarity to make good choices when it comes to food. Already regretting staying up late to fit in that last episode?
Even if you are able to force your tired self to hit the gym, lack of sleep can make it harder to recover from a workout due to the lack of human growth hormone. When you are sleep deprived, everything feels harder, and your workouts are no exception. Sleep deprivation can also increase sensitivity to pain, making your warm-up feel harder than your typical workout. Because your decision-making skills and reaction times are shorter, your risk for injury is also higher. You may think it’s a great idea to double your personal record or drop a weight and are unable to catch it. Ditching the workout when you’re sleepy seems to be the best idea. Your system is already out of whack and a good night’s sleep is more important than further stressing your system. It more than likely won’t be a productive session and you’re risking injury just to say you worked out.
Health Problems and Risk
You may think sleep is just something that affects you after one bad night. Sleep disorders and continual sleep deprivation can lead to serious health complications such as heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, lack of sleep can also contribute to depression or anxiety. In a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night.
Ever wonder why you end up sick after a crazy weekend in Vegas? Or after a long business trip? Even one night of poor sleep can raise your cortisol levels and inhibit your ability to fight off infections and the added stress of a hard workout will put you at an even higher risk of getting sick (think about all the germs in a gym).
Sleep not only plays a role in what we come down with but how we fight it off. Most of the time, our bodies fight infection with fevers. Fevers tend to rise at night due to getting a better response while we sleep, and the lack of sleep will cause for a less effective fever and response.
But it doesn’t stop there, studies have shown that people who are lacking sleep have less protection from flu vaccines. It takes longer for bodies to respond to immunizations so if we are exposed we are more likely to get sick if we aren’t fully rested.
So, if we haven’t made it clear enough… Your body NEEDS sleep. Next time you’re trying to decide if you should hit the sack or stay out a bit later, pick the first option. Lacking those extra hours of shut eye can wreak havoc on your body and take you far away from your health, fitness, and even life, goals.
This article is written by Edgar Den Uijl, who is a health enthusiast, marketing manager and a creative writer for FIT Roller, which is a therapy roller for sore muscles.When he is not watching boxing or enjoy Soccer you can find him traveling and enjoying his leisure time relaxing.