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So you already know that a well-balanced diet and a regular exercise program are keys to your weight loss plan. But are you listening to that other recommendation you’ve heard more than once in your life? Get plenty of sleep. Recent medical studies show that sleep loss can increase hunger and affect your body’s metabolism in a way that makes weight loss more difficult. So if you’re making a good effort in your nutrition and fitness plans, you still might be able to improve your success with better sleep.
How Sleep Loss Affects Weight Loss
Hormone function affects the way fat cells respond to the food we eat. Cortisol is a hormone that is commonly released in response to physical or emotional stress. When we are deprived of sleep, cortisol is released at an increased level and makes us feel hungry even if we are full. As a result, people who continue to lose sleep on a regular basis will tend to experience hunger even when they have had an adequate amount of food.
Sleep loss results in less deep sleep, the kind that restores our energy levels. Losing deep sleep hours decreases growth hormone levels. Growth hormone is a protein that helps regulate the body’s proportions of fat and muscle in adults. With less growth hormone, we reduce the ability to lose fat and grow muscle.
With a loss of sleep, your body may not be able to metabolize carbohydrates as well, which leads to an increased storage of fats and higher levels of blood sugar. Excess blood sugar can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that the body has trouble disposing of glucose in the liver and other tissues. It is a trigger for serious health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type II diabetes.
A lack of sleep goes hand in hand with a lack of energy – not a new concept, but perhaps you’ve grown used to your daily levels of energy and don’t notice that you could gain more. Not only do we accomplish less with less sleep, we also don’t burn as many calories. The body’s reaction is to hoard calories as fat, making our weight loss goals more difficult than they need to be. Sleep is starting to sound pretty important now, isn’t it?
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