Sleeping Off the Pounds

Sleep Your Way to Abs

When you think about ways to lose weight, you probably think of exercising more and/or eating less. You probably aren’t thinking that you need to sleep more…but you do.

The CDC estimates that over 1/3 of the U.S. population is sleep deprived. 5.8% of men and 3.5% of women reported falling sleep while driving over the last 30 days!

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

In order to optimize your sleep for fat loss (and good health) you don’t need a lot of sleep, but you need to make sure you are getting enough. This means getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night. The range accounts for personal differences in sleep needs. During times of higher stress, your body will need more sleep than it usually does.

Sleep and Weight Loss

People don’t get enough sleep. Sleep is important. How does this relate to you losing weight? The link between less sleep and higher body weight is growing clearer each day. Here are 3 ways that not getting enough sleep is hurting your weight loss efforts.

Sleep and Leptin

Leptin is a hormone that is released from your fat cells. Leptin travels from your fat cells to your brain and has the power to regulate both calories in and calories out. Higher levels of leptin will reduce your appetite and increase your metabolic rate.

Sleep is a major effector of leptin. Research shows that just one night of deficient sleep (4-6hrs) can cause up to a 20% decrease in leptin levels. These decreases in leptin due to sleep deficiency are also sustained throughout periods of not getting enough sleep.

Sleep & Ghrelin

Ghrelin is another hormone in your body, released from your digestive tract, that controls your appetite. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone; when ghrelin is released, you get hungry. Reducing calories (as you would as part of a weight loss diet) leads to a sustained increase in ghrelin levels (so you already have one strike against you with respects to ghrelin).

Inadequate sleep also causes a rise in ghrelin levels. Data from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study showed that sleeping 5 vs. 8 hours a night lead to a 15% increase in ghrelin levels.

The negative changes with leptin and ghrelin that occur when you don’t get enough sleep drive you to eat more calories, while your body is primed to burn less calories.

Sleep & Willpower

Not getting enough sleep also impacts your ability to make good decisions for your health and wellness. Our world is set up to get you to move less and eat more. Consistently exercising and eating a quality calorie controlled diet is not easy. It is even harder with reduced willpower and that is exactly what insufficient sleep gives you. When you are sleep deprived, the portion of your brain responsible for willpower doesn’t work as well. Keep your motivation high by getting enough sleep.

Successful Sleeping

Sometimes just getting to bed earlier isn’t enough, as despite being in bed, you are still having trouble getting to sleep. Here are 8 ways to get better sleep.

Have a routine: Get into a nightly routine so your body knows when it is time to get to sleep.


Avoid alcohol: Alcohol may help you get to sleep a little faster, but it decreases the quality of the sleep that you get.

 Make your room dark: Sleeping in a dark room will help improve the quality of your sleep.

Disconnect early: Disconnect from technology, as the light from different devices provides your body a false sense of the time of day as well. Getting away from that light allows your body to correctly identify that it is night.

Avoid stimulants: Minimize your intake of caffeine later in the day to ensure it doesn’t impact your ability to get to sleep.

Stay cool: Your body sleeps best and will be best able to transition to all the necessary stages of sleep at cooler temperatures.

Have a great bed: Get a great bed. You spend a good portion of your life in it! Having a great bed can be the difference between getting good and bad sleep.

 Stretch before bed: Stretching stimulates the rest and recovery part of our nervous system. Spend 5-7 minutes stretching before bed to help your body relax.


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