Trying to Lose Weight? A Sleep Expert Says Making This 1 Simple Change Is Key

·2-min read
African woman sleeping in her bed. Young woman sleeping in her bed in the morning at home.
African woman sleeping in her bed. Young woman sleeping in her bed in the morning at home.

If you're trying to lose weight, overhauling your sleep routine may help your efforts. We asked neurologist and sleep expert Sujay Kansagra, MD, an associate professor at Duke University Medical Center to explain the sleep-weight connection.

How Sleep Affects Food Intake and Food Choices

Those who sleep less generally eat more. In fact, a new study of more than 20,000 people found that those who didn't get at least seven hours of sleep a night snacked more throughout the day than those who got enough sleep. Plus, their snack choices tended to be high in carbs, or added sugar, fat, and caffeine. These extra calories can add up quickly over time and lead to weight gain or slow your weight loss.

How Sleep Affects Metabolism

Our body's metabolism is also affected by skimping on the shuteye. "Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, increases with sleep deprivation, and this signals your body to store away calories as fat." Dr. Kansagra went on to explain, "Insulin, which is in charge of pulling sugar out of your blood stream and into your cells, doesn't work as well, leading to higher blood sugar levels, and once again, more calories converted to fat." Increased cortisol and insulin from lack of sleep cause weight gain, which "all compound to create a viciously unhealthy cycle."

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How Sleep Affects Exercise

Those who sleep less generally eat more, but don't move more. Dr. Kansagra explained that sleep deprivation leads to fatigue, preventing you from having the energy or the desire to expend those extra calories through exercise. If you go to bed late, that early morning workout is much less likely to happen.

Getting enough good-quality sleep is an important part of any weight-loss strategy. Adults require seven to nine hours to feel fully refreshed," Dr. Kansagara said. Are you getting enough?

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