Why a Lack of Sleep is Making You Fat

You’re training hard, your diet is on point, you’ve started to stretch and mobilise your body regularly, but that stubborn belly fat just won’t shift… Sound familiar?

We see this so often where clients are pushing so hard but simply forgetting about a basic essential need, – Sleep! 

Sleep is crucial for your health and overall performance, and if you’re not getting enough sleep each night then I guarantee it will affect the way that your body functions, which in turn will make piling on the pounds a lot easier. 

Let’s take a look at just a few reasons why a lack of sleep could be making you fat. 

It messes up your appetite and makes you want to eat more

When you don’t get enough sleep, your appetite is directly affected. This is because the body releases hormones which regulate your appetite, and when you sleep for less than 6 hours at night, it affects the way certain hormones that regulate hunger and appetite work. 

For instance, the production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone may be increased, or peptide 1, which is a hormone in your intestines that makes you feel full after eating, may not be as effective. 

Moreover, inadequate sleep can also lead to increased production of endocannabinoids, these are compounds present in your brain which are associated with your appetite. This means that whenever you eat, you feel a heightened pleasure, encouraging you to eat more food than you usually would. 

It changes your gut bacteria composition 

When you don’t get enough sleep your gut bacteria composition changes. This means that the number of bugs present in your digestive system which are beneficial for your digestion may be decreased. This can occur after just two days of inadequate sleep! 

Losing just 30 minutes of sleep every day can increase your weight 

Sleeping just 30 minutes less than you should every night can cause you to gain weight. A study conducted by Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar has found that if you cut down your sleep by 30 minutes every day for a period of one year, you increase your risk of obesity by as much as 72 percent, while the risk of insulin resistance is increased by 39 percent. 

You have little energy to face the day and carry out tasks 

Another reason why a lack of sleep is making you fat is because you wake up with a decreased amount of energy. This means that you experience fatigue and have little energy to carry out tasks during the day. In other words, you are less likely to engage in physical activities that require you to use energy. Even the simplest of tasks will take you longer to complete due to lack of focus and alertness along with physical fatigue. 

It can mess up your metabolism 

When you don’t get enough sleep, it can mess with your metabolism. Not only do you have less energy to burn calories, but your resting metabolic rate may also decrease by 5 to 20 percent, compared to a full night’s sleep, making it more likely that you will gain weight. 

If you want to improve your physical performance, your mental wellbeing and your waistline, please prioritise your sleep!

This is an area that I have looked into more and more as I have gotten older. Like most twenty year olds, I pushed my body to the limit, I worked hard, trained to the limit and played even harder at the weekend and my body just took it and came back for more. The abundance of energy I had was incredible. But as the saying goes, youth is wasted on the young!

As you age, you realise how much more you have to give to your body in order to draw a fraction of the energy from it.

Maintaining this level of energy requires that you make more and more deposits into that energy account. Sleep well, eat well and move well and you will reap the rewards for years to come!

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