Sleep More, Lose More
Missing out on sleep causes more than dark circles under your eyes — it can also affect your weight. Here’s how to catch more ZZZs.
You walk into work, confused and dulled, excusing yourself to the colleagues you bump into with tales of all the sleep you didn’t get last night. In today’s world of overwhelming responsibilities and lack of personal time, sleep is often put on the back burner. And your body pays the price.
A night of no sleep (or even too little sleep), can leave you confused and exhausted all day. In this disoriented state, trying to face the already-difficult challenge of sticking to your weight-loss plan hardly seems worth the energy.
The price of staying awake
If insomnia is a repeat occurrence for you, visit your doctor — it could be a sign of a number of conditions, including depression. But the occasional night of “not enough” requires some attention on your part, too.
“Lack of sleep is a stress on the body,” says Karen Miller-Kovach, MS, RD, Chief Scientific Officer for Weight Watchers International. “When you don’t get enough sleep, your body is in an after-stress reaction mode, and you go to eat.” And this is the worst part: “You tend not to make good choices because your body is reacting to the stress with something called disinhibition.”
In other words, because you’re tired, you lose the motivation that you usually have to make good choices. “Your body sets itself up in sleep deprivation mode, psychologically and behaviorally,” continues Miller-Kovach. “It’s a very vulnerable time.”
And that’s not even counting the physiological response. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body reacts in a “fight or flight” way. There’s a release of sugar as fuel so your body can run away from this terrible thing that’s happening to it. That sugar is then converted into fat. Research also suggests that even temporary sleep deprivation can affect the body’s ability to break down carbohydrates.
Plus, a lack of rest may destroy your resolve to fit some exercise into your lunch hour — those extra minutes of exercise that keep you on the road to successful weight loss. Well-rested equals more energized. Lack of sleep? A surefire precursor to scoffing at the idea of an invigorating power walk with your buddies after work.
Manage your exhaustion
- Steer clear of caffeine. It’s tempting to drive away that sluggish feeling with strong coffee or a caffeinated soda, but that only leads to a crash. “Caffeine is a stimulant, so as it wears off — which happens quickly — it accentuates the problem,” says Miller-Kovach. You’re better off having something soothing, like herbal tea.
- Keep eating — the right way. Have your usual go-to breakfast in the morning — it’ll help you stay on track for the rest of the day. Since exhaustion might cause you to eat aimlessly and thoughtlessly, make sure you have healthy snacks like fruit, veggies and non-fat yogurt close at hand.
- Set yourself up for slumber. Maximize your chances of getting a good night’s sleep tonight: skip alcoholic drinks and caffeine, declare your bedroom an electronic-free zone (that means no TV, too!) and keep the room temperature on the cool side.
This article was taken from Weight Watchers with the company’s permission. You can sign up to learn more about Weight Watchers here.