Sleep Deprivation and It’s Effects on Fat Loss


I hate this quote-sleep is a huge part of your overall health, and nothing should be worth more than your health! There’s others…”I’ll sleep when I’m dead” …. “You don’t remember the nights you got plenty of sleep” …. can we stop saying these? First of all, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” makes no sense. You won’t be sleeping, you’ll be dead. There’s a difference. And maybe you wouldn’t have died if you got enough sleep! 😉

Sleep deprivation is something that millions of Americans suffer from-myself included. It can not only have serious effects on your health, but also your fitness goals. Before we dive into the study about sleep and fat loss, let’s take a look at what exactly sleep deprivation is, what causes it, and how it effects the human body.

Sleep deprivation can be caused by many different things, include the stress of daily life, trading sleep for other activities such as work or play, or another mental-health condition that disrupts sleep. It often goes undiagnosed because many people are totally unaware that they are sleep-deprived.

Have you ever woken up in the morning not feeling refreshed or restored?

Have you ever had trouble going to sleep? Or staying asleep?

Are you sleepy during the day most of the time?

These are all signs of sleep deprivation. It has many consequences, both short term and long term. The short term consequences include decreased performance and alertness (reducing sleep by just 1.5 hours could reduce daytime alertness by 32%), memory and cognitive impairment, stress in relationships, poor quality of life, occupational injury, and increased risk of automobile injury and accidents. Long term effects are associated with many serious medical illnesses including high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, obesity, depression and other mood disorders, attention deficit disorder, mental impairment, and stunted childhood growth. There is also an increased mortality risk for people who get less than 6-7 hours of sleep per night.

Sleep also has a major effect on weight and fat loss. If you are trying to lose weight, or are on a weight or fat loss program, the way you sleep should not be ignored. In every initial assessment I do with clients, I always ask questions about their sleep habits. You could be doing everything right; eating well, exercising daily; but if your sleep is  messed up, it could seriously effect your results.

A study done by the University of Chicago found the following:

-When dieters got a full nights sleep, they lost the same amount of weight as when they slept less

-However, when they got adequate sleep, more than half the weight they lost was fat

-When their sleep was cut, only one-fourth of the weight lost was fat

-Also when their sleep was cut, they produced higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger and reduces energy expenditure

So, if your goal is to lose fat, then sleep is extremely important. According to this study, cutting back on sleep appears to compromise any effort to lose fat through dieting. This study showed a 55% reduction in fat loss. Loss of sleep also showed a similar pattern through all study participants of increased hunger and reduced oxidation of fat. The calorie intake during this study was tightly controlled, so participants did not have access to extra snacks when they felt hungry. But out in the real world, usually when we feel hungry, we eat. It would be easier for us to fall off the diet wagon when we are sleep-deprived, as this study shows.

If you think you have a sleep disorder, or suffer from sleep deprivation, talk to your doctor. Sleeping pills can help in the short term, but they have dangerous side effects. Natural remedies include chamomile tea and melatonin. Like I mentioned briefly, I have trouble sleeping sometimes. Creating a good sleep environment and using breathing techniques helps me a lot. I make sure to turn off all my lights and electronics, and I try not to stare at a screen at least an hour before I’m ready to go to bed. I also put my phone on silent. I utilize yoga breaths-breathing deeply through my nose and filling the stomach with air, then releasing through my mouth-to help me relax and fall asleep easier. I do have melatonin supplements, but I try not to take them because they give me crazy dreams. I use them as a last resort.

If you aren’t getting the fat loss results you want, take a look at your sleeping patterns over the course of a few weeks. That might be the reason behind it! March 18th is World Sleep Day, so tell your boss you need to sleep in on Friday 😉







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