As the weather gets warmer, many of you are packing up your sweaters and dreaming about short sleeves and shorts. 

Spring and summertime are often associated with shedding bulky sweaters along with some winter weight. Which is why it makes some sense that World Obesity day was moved from the fall to spring. Most of us are more oriented around activity and healthy eating this time of year.

Now, more than ever, we need to be focusing on obesity rates – in children and adults. Since 1975 obesity rates have tripled. In fact, a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics reported that  42.4% of American adults are obese, with 9.2% morbidly so.  

World Obesity Day is aimed at increasing awareness and driving global efforts to reduce, prevent and treat obesity. 

Behavior and lifestyle are two important aspects that contribute to obesity, which is defined as a BMI (Body Mass Index) greater than 30. Although diet and exercise are the first steps you should take to address the issue, there are other behavioral changes that can help as well. 

If you guessed that some of those behavioral changes are linked to sleep you’d be correct. In fact, sleep impacts your waistline in multiple ways. For many, poor quality sleep will not only prevent you from losing weight but it also contributes to weight gain. 

If you need to lose weight, sleep will help you lose weight in more ways than one. For many, it’s also one of the easier ways to achieve weight goals.

Here are a few top sleep tips for losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight: 

Create and Stick to a Consistent Sleep Routine

There is a reason we create and live by morning and evening routines for kids; they’re always more pleasant and easier to handle. Yet we often fail to tap into that same wisdom for ourselves as we become adults. 

Understandably there are many reasons we fail to create a consistent sleep routine in adulthood, but if you’re trying to lose weight, this is one of the easiest behavior modifications you can do. 

A consistent sleep routine means going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. This includes weekends. Sleeping in or staying out late does more harm than you realize, and not just regarding your weight. A regular sleep routine 

will help strengthen circadian rhythms and improve your overall sleep. 

Research has shown that the more consistent the sleep schedule is, the more improvement they saw in BMI. So especially if your BMI exceeds 30, you should start with this one simple change to your daily routine. 

Get the Recommended 7-9 Hours of Sleep

Sleep duration matters when it comes to weight loss. 

We understand there are some instances where getting a full seven hours of sleep doesn’t happen. Especially if you’re struggling with a sleep disorder like insomnia, whether it’s shorter-term acute insomnia or longer-term chronic insomnia. When possible though, set yourself up to successfully reach 7 hours of sleep each night. It will pay off with significant weight loss benefits. 

If you need a little help getting enough sleep, read our recent article Top 5 Tips to Help You Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep

Not only are people who sleep 7-9 hours able to lose weight easier than people who sleep less than 6 hours, but they lose weight specifically in their waist circumference. Abdominal fat is especially dangerous. It has been shown to increase the risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, losing abdominal fat can have a big impact on your overall health.

Related: Trouble Sleeping? 7 Common Causes of Insomnia 

Sleep Loss Reduces Self Control

One way sleep deprivation contributes to weight gain or prevents weight loss is that it reduces self control.

It’s likely no surprise that people make poorer food choices when they’re sleep-deprived. Yet some studies suggest it goes beyond mere loss of will power when you’re tired. One study published in 2019 discovered that even one night of sleep deprivation could lead to food-reward signals that lead to grabbing for a snack.  

Sleep Loss Creates Hormone Imbalance

Another key way sleep loss results in weight gain is how it throws your hormones like leptin and ghrelin out of balance. Leptin tells your body when it’s full. 

Sleep loss results in less leptin in our bodies, which means we’re more likely to overeat because our innate signals telling us to stop are working properly. 

Sleep loss also results in more ghrelin. Ghrelin stimulates appetite. So you can imagine how having more hormones telling us to eat and fewer hormones telling us to stop eating how it would be a disaster for anyone on a mission to lose weight or maintain their weight. 

Get Evaluated for Sleep Disorders, like Sleep Apnea, that Cause Weight Gain

The World Health Organization defines obesity as a disease. This helps underscore how the issue goes beyond how someone looks or whether they fit within society’s ideal body type standards. 

Body image standards affect us psychologically and can lead to depression or anxiety, but the far more serious reality of obesity is that it’s a leading cause or contributor to other diseases. Hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and sleep apnea. 

Sleep apnea is a serious health condition that is directly connected to obesity. In fact, more than 80% of adult sleep apnea patients are overweight and over 50% are obese. Adherence to your sleep apnea treatment protocol can help you lose weight, and weight loss can also help reduce symptoms of sleep apnea. 

If you’re undiagnosed but suspect you have sleep apnea, reach out today for an evaluation

You can also find out more by reading our recent article Does Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain? Here’s What You Need to Know.

Being a few pounds overweight is easy to ignore and before you know it, your BMI exceeds 30 and you start to notice it’s not as easy to exercise and you’re feeling more tired throughout the day. Following close behind are health issues like diabetes and sleep apnea. 

Follow the sleep tips above and you’re one step closer to shedding the weight and experiencing greater overall health. 

 

 

References

Hales, C., et al. (2020). Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity among adults: United States, 2017-2018. NCHS Data Brief 360. Retrieved on March 3, 2020 from:
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db360.htm

Rihm, J., et al. (2019). Sleep deprivation selectively upregulates an amygdala-hypothalamic circuit involved in food reward. Journal of Neuroscience 39 (5): 888-889. Retrieved on March 3, 2020 from:
https://www.jneurosci.org/content/39/5/888

Almendros, I., et al. (2020). Obesity, sleep apnea and cancer. International Journal of Obesity. Retrieved on March 4, 2020 from:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41366-020-0549-z#citeas