Your #1 Weight Loss Enemy… Lack of Sleep


We have all heard, “You are what you eat”. What we should be saying is, “You are what you metabolize”.

lack of sleep for weight loss

The reality is, even if your nutrition and exercise are on point, your sleep is the secret key that unlocks the power of your metabolism and helps turn your body into a fat burning machine! To help you master your sleep and maximize weight loss, it’s important to dive into:

  • Your sleep cycles
  • The 3 hormones that trigger weight gain when you’re sleep deprived
  • The 5 strategies you need to master your sleep

First up… The power of 90 minutes

Just like how your cell phone has a battery that needs to be recharged, your body and mind also need to be consistently recharged. Instead of using electricity (like your phone), your body uses sleep. Think of your sleep as powerful 90 minute cycles with multiple stages that repeat all night long. Each cycle has 4 stages and ends with REM sleep (your dream state). Stage 1 and 2 are considered light sleep (that twilight sleep we all know). Light sleep gets your body ready to enter deep sleep. Stage 3 and 4 are deep sleep, which repair and rejuvenate your body. Where deep sleep strengthens your body, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep organizes your mind. REM sleep is your mind’s efficient filing system for your memories and thoughts. Once REM sleep is over, the cycle repeats.

The Power of 90

Balanced hormones = a leaner & lighter body

In perfect world, we would all get enough sleep. The problem is the majority of us live in a state of chronic sleep deprivation and that causes big challenges with three main hormones, Ghrelin, Leptin & Cortisol. Look at Ghrelin and Leptin as your two hormones that balance your appetite. Ghrelin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract and stimulates hunger and Leptin is produced in your fat cells and tells your body when you’re full. When you’re sleep deprived your body over releases Ghrelin, increasing your appetite and inhibits the release of Leptin, preventing you from feeling full. This triggers higher calorie consumption and weight gain.

Now if that wasn’t bad enough, the other hormone affected by lack of sleep is Cortisol (your stress hormone). That unwanted belly fat we all love so much (yeah right!), is mostly caused by cortisol. When you’re tired, your cortisol levels will naturally rise which directly affects your blood sugar; increasing your appetite and causing cravings. This leads to higher calorie and carbohydrate intake which spikes your blood sugar and causes fat storage.

5 strategies to master your sleep

You know why your body need sleeps and some of the hormonal challenges that are triggered without adequate sleep. Now it’s time to get your sleep dialed in and get your metabolism rockin’ with these 5 strategies.

Strategy 1 – Set a sleep schedule

As much as many of us hate set schedules, the reality is our body loves them.  Your body’s goal is to stay in rhythm and balance, and the best way to do that is by having a sleep schedule. Simply start with the amount of hours you need to sleep each night and wake up feeling rested. The amount of sleep a person needs is individual and genetic so that might be 7, 8 or 9 hours for you.  Once you know your hours, set your bed and wake time each day.  Of course, there will be the occasional late nights (we all have to live a little!). On those late nights, still wake up at your normal wake time and then go to sleep a little earlier the next couple nights until you make up for the hours you’ve lost.  You heard me right; sleep can be made up!

Strategy 2 – Resist the snooze button

It feels so good, hitting that snooze button and knowing you have 30 more minutes in bed.  Well, it felt good until now! That snooze button is a big cause of slowing down and potentially halting your weight loss efforts!  Once you hit the snooze button, your deep sleep and REM sleep is complete and you will only stay in light sleep, which basically does nothing for recharging your body and mind.  It’s basically wasted sleep.  You’re much better off setting your alarm later and waking up right when it goes off to ensure that you are getting the best quality sleep.

Strategy 3 – Sleep in a quiet and dark environment

Because you sleep in roughly 90 minute cycles, you’ll enter the light sleep stage multiple times through the night.  If you sleep with the TV on or any noise that changes in volume, it will wake you as you re-enter light sleep, interrupting your sleep cycles.  If you need noise, try a noise machine for uninterrupted sound. If you like falling asleep with the TV on, set a time to go off in 30 minutes. Sleeping in a quiet environment is only part of the equation. You also want to create a dark environment.  Your sleep hormone is melatonin and it’s released in the dark and inhibited in the light. The more natural melatonin your body can release, the better quality of sleep you’ll have. So keep those lights off and shades drawn!

Strategy 4 – Create downtime

We live in a fast paced world and we are pulled in multiple directions.  That non-stop hustling can make it difficult to relax before bed.  This is exactly why parents create downtime routines for their kids; it prepares them for sleep.  If you have ever struggled to fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night with your mind racing, creating downtime could be your solution.  Some downtime examples would be taking a bath, reading, listening to music, watching a movie or taking a light family walk, basically anything that relaxes you and helps bring you down from the day.

Strategy 5 – Ditch the booze

Alcohol fools many people.  They think because alcohol relaxes them and helps them fall asleep, then it must be good to drink before bed.  Big mistake! Though alcohol may initially help you fall asleep, it causes major interruptions in your sleep cycles. If you’re having a drink at night, make sure it’s at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed.  That will help prevent the alcohol from negatively affecting your sleep cycles.

There you have it; your complete 411 on sleep and the exact steps to take your sleep to the next level and drop the pounds even faster!

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