Sleep well and slim down
What better time to catch up on some quality zzz’s than World Sleep Day. There’s a bonus benefit, too, as getting enough sleep can really help support your weight loss. Here’s how…
Ever noticed that when you’re sleep deprived, you seem to feel hungry all the time, or you crave fatty, sugary foods? When you’ve had a bad night, everything can feel like an extra struggle—especially making healthy food choices. Scientists have found a reason why.
Research shows that lack of sleep may affect key hormones and brain chemicals that regulate the appetite and the way the body metabolizes food. For example, as well as increasing levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin, inadequate sleep may lower our levels of the “full-up” hormone leptin, so we want to eat more than normal and want extra food to feel satisfied. This could help explain why people who regularly sleep for five hours or less are 15 percent more likely to be obese.
“It can become a vicious circle—you eat more because you’re tired, and the more your weight goes up, the more sleep problems you have, so the more tired you feel,” says Slimming World’s head of nutrition and research, Dr Jacquie Lavin. “Many of us just put up with poor sleep, but it’s a foundation for good health and can help you on your weight loss journey.”
In the long run, getting regular, good-quality sleep can help prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as boost your immunity and mental wellbeing. When it comes to sleeping better, for longer, we know that following a healthy lifestyle and losing weight can have huge benefits.
In a Slimming World survey, a third of members who responded said the quality of their sleep had improved since losing weight. Members also reported sleep-boosting benefits such as: no longer going to bed feeling too full; not being woken up by their own snoring; being in less discomfort or pain and feeling less worried.
In turn, that means they have more energy during the day and greater motivation to plan and prep healthy meals and find ways to stay active. In fact, a report by the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health suggests sleeping well makes us 33 percent more likely to lose weight successfully. So it’s a win-win: the more you snooze—the more you lose!
How to stay on track when you’re tired
It’s normal to have the occasional disturbed night’s sleep, so it’s good to have some strategies up your sleeve to help you make slimming-friendly choices the next day.
Stock up on healthy snacks. Easy-to-grab, on-plan choices include fresh berries, hard-boiled eggs, lean cooked cold meats and veg sticks.
Get moving. If you need an energy boost, instead of reaching for something sugary, head outside for a 10-minute walk in the fresh air.