Most people think that weight loss is so simple, all one needs to do is eat less and be more physically active to create a calorie deficit. However, this is not enough, other pillars of lifestyle medicine do affect weight control including sleep and avoiding smoking, drugs, and alcohol consumption. Some people find weight loss a challenge while others may not because of the basic differences between humans-in terms of genetics, body type, health conditions, and more.
New research has boosted the premise of the linkage of sleep and diet with body weight. They suggest that people who are well-rested and take 7 to 9 hours of night sleep have less calorie intake so have fewer chances of weight gain than others who are chronically sleep deprived. Those who sleep less have more cravings for high-calorie foods and consume more calories.
Furthermore, if the rested people fall under the overweight or obese categories, they would be able to reduce their body weight. Thus, experts agree that getting enough shut-eye regularly is important for one’s well-being, health, and body weight as are diet and exercise. 
Sleep Deprivation And Weight Gain
Different hypotheses speak about the connection between sleep and body weight. One of them is the effect of sleep on one’s appetite. Appetite is controlled by neurotransmitters-the chemical messengers that help neurons communicate with one another. Ghrelin and leptin are the two neurotransmitters that promote hunger and feeling of fullness respectively. Throughout the day, the body keeps on changing the levels of these neurotransmitters which signals the need to consume calories. A study has indicated that lack of sleep may affect the regulation of these neurotransmitters, thereby leading to an increase in appetite. Several other studies have shown that sleep-deprived people often chose foods rich in calories and carbohydrates.
Furthermore, many studies have found that when people have a sleepy brain, their brain’s reward center revs up, and searches for something that feels good. Thus, they are the ones more into late-night snacking on high-carb and fatty foods and also are prompted to eat a bigger portion of all foods. A tired person would lack the impulse control to say no to eating junk foods.
Another is the effect of sleep on metabolism. Metabolism is a natural chemical process wherein the body converts what foods or drinks we consume into energy required for survival. Exercises can temporarily increase the metabolism but sleep cannot. About 15% of metabolism is slowed down during sleep and it reaches its lowest in the morning hours. Many studies have revealed that extra wake-up hours at night may increase people’s opportunities to eat and poor sleep may lead to metabolic dysregulation including disruption in the circadian rhythms, thus resulting in weight gain.
Sleep also has its relation to physical activity which further contributes to weight control. Lack of sleep can result in less energy or tiredness for doing workouts. So no exercise or physical activities means higher chances of weight gain. If people get engaged more in physical activities, they would be able to sleep better.
Thus, the association between getting inadequate sleep and an increased risk of obesity is well-established in children and adolescents. However, a clear reason behind this link is still not clear, it’s still under debate. [2, 3]
Tips and Tactics for an Improved Night Sleep Pattern During Weight Loss
In a healthy weight loss plan, it is important to incorporate getting proper, good quality sleep. Researchers believe that while dieting if the person does not take adequate sleep, he or she has a reduced amount of weight loss and gets involved in more overeating.
For those who are struggling to maintain the right sleeping hours, the good news is there are many ways to make sleep better. Today’s generation indeed has a busy lifestyle as well as the use of advanced technologies and gadgets which makes snoozing difficult and lures the person to stay awake a lit bit longer.
However, when trying to lose weight, its best to follow research-based, simple tips to have improved sleep, including:
- Limit Screen Time- At least an hour before hitting the sack to get sleep, shut down the televisions, cell phones, computer, laptops, and tablets as they would make one sleep late at night and not have proper hours of sleep.
- Turn Off the Lights- If one bedroom is lit with artificial light coming from a television or a bedside lamp, one won’t be able to doze off to sleep. Rather, it would make one wake up for long and may have night time snacks, thereby increasing the risk of weight gain and obesity. On the other side, darkness in the bedroom would cue the body to release melatonin-a natural sleep hormone, which is why one can soon fall asleep.
- Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule- Be it a holiday, a weekend, or a working day, one must wake up and retire at the same time every day. Those who have big swings in their sleep schedule or catch sleep after a week of late-night wake-ups are at risk of having high blood sugar levels due to reduced insulin sensitivity. Nowadays, one can monitor their sleep times with smartwatches.
- Watch out for what to eat and when one eat- It’s a bad habit of eating heavy meals or having alcohol close to bedtime as it can make it harder for one to fall asleep. After 2 pm, one must not consume tea, soda, chocolate, and coffee as the caffeine can stay longer for about 6 hours in the body system, hence not letting one to doze off early.
- Reduce Stress- If one is stressed, one might eat more while trying to cope with their negative emotions and also stay awake for a long time. So managing stress is important to have proper sleep and avoid weight gain. Relaxation techniques help in getting sleep.
- Create a Bedtime Ritual- The time when one has just laid on the bed to sleep don’t let the mind tackle big issues. Instead, one can take a warm bath, meditate, or read. [2, 3]