Sleep and Weight Loss: Is There a Connection?

A man sleeping on the bed

Does the quality and amount of time you sleep actually affect your weight loss efforts?  Well, according to the research  published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, when dieters were tested on different sleep schedules, it was found that those dieters who were sleep-deprived had a 55% reduction in fat loss when compared to those who had a good night sleep. In fact, researchers discovered that the sleep pattern affects long term weight more than diet or physical activity.  That’s because people who are sleep deprived are less likely to exercise and more likely to “veg-out” in front of the TV and eat junk food. Also, hormones, which play a role in regulating the appetite, can be affected when a person doesn’t get enough sleep.  University of Chicago researchers found that within a few days of sleep deprivation, insulin sensitivity dropped by more than 30 percent. The research just keeps coming, and one thing is clear – you need to get some sleep! 

Here are some natural suggestions that may help you to get more sleep:

  • Get into an evening routine.  When you do the same things every night you will soon start to connect these activities with sleep.
  • Start to unwind about one hour before bed.  Take a soothing bath, read something that is not too exciting, or listen to soft music.
  • Exercise during the day but avoid working out just before bed.   A 30-minute workout in the morning has been shown to be most beneficial in promoting sleep at night.
  • Leave at least three hours after supper before you go to bed.  Or better yet, eat your main meal at lunch and just have a light supper.  It is hard for your body to relax when it is digesting a big meal.
  • Keep your bedroom dark by using a dark blind or an eye mask.  Also, keep it quiet – even if that means wearing earplugs.
  • Stay away from alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine in the evening.  As these are all stimulants, they will not help you sleep.  Even though alcohol may make you drowsy, it can interrupt your body’s sleep rhythms and disturb your sleep.
  • Try some low-intensity stretches to relax your muscles, especially in the upper body, neck, and shoulders. 
  • If you find yourself tossing and turning, get up and do something relaxing in another room (stay away from the computer and the TV!) until you feel tired enough to sleep.

If you want to live a healthy life and maintain an ideal weight, it is imperative that you get a good sleep every night.  It is just as important as having a balanced diet and getting regular exercise. 

So, does more sleep mean more weight loss? Well, there must be a balance. A study from Northwestern Medicine found that people who slept longer actually ate as much as 248 more calories at dinner and in the evening.  The study also reported that these people tended to eat only half as many fruits and vegetables as they should.  That many calories may lead up to two pounds of weight gain per month if exercise is not part of your daily diet.

A healthy lifestyle is about balancing good nutrition, good mental health practices and healthy, safe exercise.    If you are unable to get a good night’s sleep, speak to your doctor to find out what may be the reason for your poor sleep. 

If you have questions about your prescription medications or any other medication, please contact our team at Canada Online Health by calling toll free 1-800-399-DRUG (3784). One of our patient representatives will be happy to assist you or transfer you to a licensed Canadian pharmacist for a free consultation.

This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor.  It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation.  If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).

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