Most people don’t want to make weight loss harder. Or weight gain easier.
Yet when you don’t get enough sleep, there’s a good chance that’s exactly what you’re doing.
What’s the connection?
If you sleep 5 or 6 hours when you really need 7 or 8, you keep your body in a chronically sleep-deprived state. This messes with your body’s ability to regulate several key hormones that:
- Increase your hunger
- Make it harder for you to feel satisfied and/or full
- Make food seem even more desirable and rewarding
End result: You can’t keep yourself away from the chips.
By not getting enough sleep, you’re hungrier and you crave sweets more than you otherwise would.
You’re also tired, so you exercise and move less.
And more awake time means more time to raid the kitchen.
Bottom line: Research shows sleep-deprived people tend to eat about 300 more daily calories than people who get enough sleep.
(Plus, they just feel worse.)
What can you do?
Sleep loss usually happens as a result of one of two issues:
1) You’re not prioritizing sleep. (And instead, stay up late working, scrolling on your phone, or watching TV)
2) You want to sleep, but toss and turn all night.
The first issue often requires a grown-up talk with yourself: Clarify why sleep is important to your health and longer term goals—even if finding out what happens next in your favorite TV show feels *urgent* in the moment.
The second issue can feel more frustrating. After all, you can’t just decide or force yourself to sleep when your brain keeps buzzing.
However, you can control your environment and your routines, and make small changes to them so that good sleep is more likely.
- Turn off electronics.
- Take a bath or shower.
- Create a relaxing sleep area.
- Set your room to an appropriate temperature.
- Make the room as dark as possible.
If you’re having trouble regulating your appetite (and your snack attacks) consider making some changes to support sleep.
With consistent, improved rest, you might find that your nutrition goals are suddenly a whole lot easier to reach.