The Key to Weight Loss Isn't Just Diet and Exercise

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/14/2011 6:01 AM   :  57 comments   :  18,331 Views

If you're trying to lose weight, you've probably been paying a lot of attention to what you eat and how much you exercise. It's great when everything is going right and you're losing like you expected. But it's frustrating when you feel like you're working so hard but aren't getting the results you were hoping to see. What could possibly be going wrong?

Our bodies are very complicated, so it's not always just about activity and food. There's another magic ingredient that can help or hinder your weight loss efforts. What is it? Sleep.

Ohio State University dietitian Shirley Kindrick says that getting a good night's sleep is a key part of the weight loss equation. She finds that many people trying to lose weight are sacrificing sleep for exercise. Lack of sleep causes hormonal changes which can cause carbohydrate cravings, and also makes it more difficult to find the energy for a good workout. Because lack of sleep has been linked to Type 2 diabetes and weight issues, Kindrick advises her clients that sleep is just as important as exercise when it comes to weight loss.

"Kindrick says most adults need at least seven hours of sleep every night. Studies have shown that people who slept five hours per night were 73 percent more likely to become obese than those getting seven to nine nightly hours of sleep."

If you're getting 5 hours of sleep per night and want to work up to 7, do it gradually. Making changes all at once can be difficult for your schedule and sleeping patterns. For example, getting up 15 minutes later and getting to bed 15 minutes earlier can be a small step toward a better night's rest.

Looking for 7 Hidden Ways to Get Better Sleep? Take the Sleep Quiz to find out how much you know about getting the rest you need.

Do you get enough sleep? If not, do you think it impacts your weight loss progress?


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Comments

  • JO_REDUCES
    57
    Well, I guess that is one good thing about having Chronic Fatigue & Immune Dysfunction Syndrome... the amount of sleep I get! Unless I am suffering from th occassional bout of insomnia, I average 11 hours/day. Unfortunately this doesn't leave me with many hours to get other things done, but that is another story... - 2/2/2011   10:16:51 PM
  • 56
    Since adding daily exercise to my life I have been struggling to get to bed at night and struggling to wake up in the morning. Once I get going I'm fine but getting going at a reasonable time is tough. - 1/20/2011   2:45:10 AM
  • 55
    This is a huge issue for my. My husband works till midnight and I cannot sleep till I know he is home, and I have to be up for 7am. We usually talk about the day for an hour. And we have a 4 year old that likes to wake us up in the middle of the night too as he crawls in to our bed with us. But 7 am is wake up time when our older son does not have hockey at 5:30 am. We alternate taking him in to play (and he plays for 3 different teams, so it is usually 3 times every 2 weeks). My husband goes back home and sleeps from 11-2:30 - 1/19/2011   6:10:42 PM
  • MMM225
    54
    For me: less sleep = less motivation - 1/18/2011   11:57:31 PM
  • 53
    In the summer, I feel refreshed after 7 hours of sleep. But in the winter, I need at least 9 to feel rested. - 1/18/2011   11:49:21 AM
  • IRENELOPEZ
    52
    I think the main key is state of mind, attitude and fortitude - 1/17/2011   12:24:41 AM
  • 51
    My concern is broken sleep. I usually fall asleep for 2-3 hours and then wake for sometime up to an hour or longer. This happens sometime several times during the night. Since I am retired if I sleep late in the morning it is not a problem, overall I still probably get 6-8 hours of sleep. Does not getting a continuous
    eight hours of sleep also have the same effect. - 1/16/2011   8:56:42 PM
  • 50
    This is a big problem for me! - 1/16/2011   7:13:44 PM
  • 49
    Well that is one of the things I am doing right I guess. I nirmally get at leats 8 hours every night. =) - 1/16/2011   4:15:10 PM
  • PRESHA811
    48
    I'm very fortunate because I definitely get enough sleep. - 1/16/2011   3:03:04 PM
  • 47
    The less sleep I get the hungrier I am and the less motivation I have to exercise. - 1/16/2011   2:11:45 PM
  • 46
    I just wonder if any studies have been done on new mothers. I AM one (my son is just over a month old), which is why I ask. Even though -- I hope, at least -- the sleep deprivation doesn't go on forever, it does go on for at least a few months, so I wonder if that impacts health in the long run. I've actually been doing pretty well on the exercise and eating, but am averaging anywhere from two to six hours of sleep a day. Have already lost the pregnancy weight, but don't feel particularly healthy and I'm sure the lack of sleep has a LOT to do with that. - 1/16/2011   1:36:32 PM
  • 45
    Actually I am not sure...I sleep anywhere from 3-5 hours get up fall back asleep after staying up for 45-120minutes and possible up a second time with the same effect. On a good day I may get 7-8 hours but broken up, certainly not straight 7-8 hours. My husband may get up occasionally (hardly ever twice in one night) but is back to sleep within 10 mins or less. And yes, I am overweight and until just recently was considered obese. I been dealing with this for years, I even tried talking to my doctor about it but it did not really make a difference. I am still not sure if broken up sleep is as bad for you as lack of sleep. - 1/16/2011   11:09:57 AM
  • 44
    I'm a little skeptical. I worked nights for 6 years and was able to lose 30 pounds, while getting 4 hours of sleep. I worked afternoon shift for 6 years and was able to lose 20 pounds, while getting 7-8 hours. I am now working day shift and have been for 10 years, and sleep 7 hours a night. I am having a hard time losing weight this time around, probably due to menopause and thyroid issues. I think people can get by on less sleep and still lose weight. - 1/16/2011   7:23:29 AM
  • 43
    I know not getting enough sleep may have been a contributing factor in my weight gain. I was working nights for 5 yrs. and never getting more than 4 or 5 hours of sleep. I was always hungry, and needed the food to have the energy to keep going. Now I get plenty of sleep, have energy to spare after losing weight. - 1/15/2011   11:54:31 PM
  • 42
    I get enough hours of sleep, but I had a sleep study done a couple of years ago and it showed that although I do not have sleep apnea, I don't have any deep sleep. They sent me on my way without any answers, so I'm still struggling to find the reason. I do have asthma and chronic pain from degenerative arthritis, so it's likely these are the cause, but I don't know for sure. - 1/15/2011   11:48:40 PM
  • 41
    I am a weekend weight loser too. I also thought it might be that I get more sleep, but I've often wondered if it was less stress. - 1/15/2011   10:01:00 PM
  • 40
    when i initially lost 52lbs back in 2007, i KNOW getting good sleep made all the difference in the world. it also gave me the energy i needed for my workouts. - 1/15/2011   8:15:02 PM
  • LITTLEGIRLSMOM1
    39
    I go to bed and try to get at least 8 hours of sleep. Sometimes I do and then sometimes I have nights when I wake up alot and feel all washed out the next day. I know the nights that I do not sleep well are caused by my being a chronic pain person. - 1/15/2011   7:56:29 PM
  • 38
    I have been saying this til I am blue in the face!!! :) The scale drops on weekends when I get my 9-12 hours instead of my 6-8 hours...I know my body needs it and my workouts are WAY better when I am rested! :) I LOVE SLEEP. Even my boyfriend laughs and says I am "sleeping away the pounds"! - 1/15/2011   6:39:51 PM
  • MUSLIMAH_AK
    37
    This would make a lot of sense. I know I already have hormonal issues, and I have serious sleeping and fatigue issues. Maybe I'll have to work on it and see how it goes. - 1/15/2011   5:16:52 PM
  • 36
    Sleep - well I could very easily sleep for 10 hours - no problem. You could have a brass band play at the foot of my bed, and I'd not hear them. Having MS gives you fatigue, but on average I sleep 8 hours a night. When the boys were little and not sleeping through the night, it was not easy.........glad that's over with, but I feel for those of you who only get 5 hours a night. Sometimes when I'm hungry at night, I just go to bed, read and the hunger goes........ - 1/15/2011   5:10:11 PM
  • 35
    My work schedule is such that I don't need to deprive myself of sleep. I go to bed at bed time, at the same time (give or take and hour), and wake up about 6 hours later. Nothing wakes me up, no alarm, no niosy neighbors, I just wake up. And once I'm awake, I'm awake unless I take something.I would love to get 8 hours of sleep once in a while. - 1/15/2011   4:57:43 PM
  • TCMAKEUP
    34
    I found myself in front of the refrigerator late last night thinking I was hungry and decided to go to bed instead. - 1/15/2011   1:25:36 PM
  • 33
    With fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions, I NEVER get more than 5 hr. on any given night and those hr. are not consistent. I have tried all the recommendations and unless the pain and stiffness are controlled some day, I'm going to be sleeping (or not) sleeping the same. - 1/15/2011   12:19:40 PM
  • 32
    I've found that toward the end of the week, as I get more tired, my cravings increase and my eating tends to take an uptick toward the high end of my calorie/carb ranges. Interesting to read that this isn't just a fluke or my imagination!
    Thanks,
    C~ - 1/15/2011   10:20:49 AM
  • JEANNIELW
    31
    I would like to hear from someone else who suffers from fibromyalgia and get their feedback. - 1/15/2011   9:25:02 AM
  • JEANNIELW
    30
    I am also a sleep deprived lady. I have fibromyalgia and it is very hard to get a good nights sleep. I also have chronic fatigue[ this goes along with fibromyalgia], so I find myself searching for carbs to help me find some energy. - 1/15/2011   9:24:51 AM
  • 29
    I would love to get more sleep, but my 6 month old son doesn't sleep through the night yet. I haven't had more than 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep since July. I sure wish there was a way I could change this factor! - 1/15/2011   8:48:43 AM
  • 28
    I WORK 12 HOUR NIGHT SHIFTS, SO I'M UP THREE DAYS A WEEK OVERNIGHT. MY QUESTION IS DOSE DAY SLEEP COUNT THE SAME AS NIGHT SLEEPING IN THE BATTEL OF LOSING WEIGHT? SLEEPING IN THE DAY JUST FEELS DIFFRENT AND IT IS SO HARD TO WORK OUT THE DAYS THAT I WORK. ANY SUGGESTIONS? - 1/15/2011   5:14:04 AM
  • 27
    Boy this hit home today. I slept about 8 hrs over the last 3 nights. I am in menopause and have had a career change. I don't HAVE to get up early, so I don't so I stay up later. It is so true about keeping on some kind of normal sleep schedule all though I definitely do not agree with getting up on non work days at the same time as work days. That is when I catch up on sleep. Anyways, for those of us with hormonal issues, I do take a compounded hormone made with bioidentical hormones that natural pharmacists have to do. Find a OB/GYN that is familiar with them and a pharmacist. They can be tweaked to the smallest degree. I have an appt soon to get tweaked! - 1/15/2011   2:25:43 AM
  • 26
    NO, I definitely do not get enough sleep and you don't even want to know the extremes to which I have gone to try to get more.... valerian, NOT - metformin - SOMETIMES, sleeping pills - Sometimes, hot bath - sometimes, hot milk - sometimes, sex - sometimes, reading - sometimes, music - sometimes.... but have yet to find anything that works all the time! - 1/15/2011   1:46:47 AM
  • 25
    ZORBS13, you might be a person who doesn't need much sleep, but 4-5 hours per night seems that you have way too much going on in your life and u r not giving enough to yourself. Lack of sleep takes a toll on your body that will catch up with you with time. I have five children, so I know about NOT getting enough sleep when they were small. For years I never slept all night, so I know how it is. - 1/15/2011   1:35:07 AM
  • 24
    Was relieved to find out that sleep apnea and weight gain have a correlation. We are just beginning to accept medical facets of over weight and not just :last of self control" That there are many aspects to it. - 1/15/2011   12:12:24 AM
  • 23
    I know I need more sleep, and discussed this with my doctor. I'll try the Sleep Challenge again - didn't get through it the first time. - 1/14/2011   11:42:41 PM
  • 22
    I think it also makes a difference the older that you get. When I was younger I didn't observe a difference in weight gain/loss when I got very little sleep. Now that I am older I have noticed more dificulty losing weight when I get very little sleep. - 1/14/2011   10:47:00 PM
  • 21
    These days, 7 hours seems IMPOSSIBLE!! But, I'll get there eventually. - 1/14/2011   8:34:09 PM
  • 20
    I agree completely on the need for sleep, not just for losing excess weight, but for simply feeling well enough to enjoy life. If you can't get all you need at night, a common problem for old folks, get that daytime nap in! We don't all have the same need for the same amount of sleep, or for the same sleep pattern. - 1/14/2011   6:47:19 PM
  • MIKE2211
    19
    me i believe that this is true, Mainly because i see the more people during the day that get less than 7 hours minimum of sleep a night tend to take more frequent naps through out the day. Which in the end makes them stay up longer at night and go to bed later on in the early parts of the morning when the rest of us who are going to bed early getiing the full 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night are waking up and going out for our morning walks or jogs so in the end, What this article says is true people that get more sleep at night tend to have a higher positive on their weight loss goals - 1/14/2011   4:15:53 PM
  • 18
    I know that I need 8 hours a night to stay focused and on schedule. Without the sleep, I seem to lose all motivation and focusing on tasks that need to be done. I know people who can get by with less sleep, including several members of my family, but if I'm going to stay on track, I need my rest. - 1/14/2011   1:11:56 PM
  • 17
    I AM A VERY LIGHT SLEEPER AND IF I GET WOKEN UP I AM AWAKE FOR A LONG TIME IT TAKES ME A LONG TO GET TO SLEEP ALSO.. - 1/14/2011   1:11:06 PM
  • 16
    I dont get enough sleep but it is my own fault. I can sleep, it's just that I don't get into bed soon enough. I have never noticed lack of sleep having a positive or negative effect on my weight loss, although it could have an effect, I never noticed it, myself. - 1/14/2011   12:55:44 PM
  • 15
    I do believe this is true. I do crave carbs to help keep me up when I lack sleep. I know that I shouldn't but it is easy to do so to get that extra energy so that I can make it through the day. - 1/14/2011   12:51:26 PM
  • 14
    I had problems with insomnia, but recently I've been getting 8-10 hours a night! - 1/14/2011   12:28:56 PM
  • JUSTBIRDY
    13
    Perhaps she should re-read the research. Often, it is the dieting that causes the hormone changes that cause the lack of sleep, not the other way around. - 1/14/2011   11:59:51 AM
  • 12
    I try to! But I have problems both falling asleep and staying asleep. I'm the world's lightest sleeper and even though I have two different fans blowing all night long for white noise, noises still wake me up! - 1/14/2011   11:51:09 AM
  • 11
    I've definitely seen this with myself. When my son wasn't sleeping very well I had a really difficult time being consistent with exercise and eating healthy. Once I started getting enough sleep I stayed on track and lost weight really easily. - 1/14/2011   11:47:01 AM
  • 10
    I found this out the hard way, i went for about several months with not much sleep, finally the docter put me on a seraquel regimen for my ADD/bi-polar symptons (i was already on straterra) NOW i sleep great, not a whole lot of druggyness in the mornings (on occasion), and ive noticed my weight starting to drop, bonus-a much better attitude. - 1/14/2011   10:57:53 AM
  • 9
    So what's a good nights sleep look like. I figure when I have gone to heaven to be with Jesus I might get some sleep. I try and try each night and some nights I do ok and others.........well like last night. I've gotten 4 hours of sleep in 2 nights. Boy is it going to catch up with me. I do know a good nights sleep is important but if your body doesn't want to you can't make it. - 1/14/2011   10:36:57 AM
  • 8
    Ahhhh....sleep. I remember it well. I used to be able to sleep. Now, every night is spent struggling with the menopause and being blind-sided by extreme hot flashes all night long. I have a big fan at the foot of the bed, and it has a remote with a timer. Sometimes I have to let the fan run all night long. EVEN in the dead of winter. I've read all the articles with "sleep tips" but NO ONE has an answer for being up all night because you feel like you are about to spontaneously combust into flames. - 1/14/2011   9:40:41 AM

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