Updated: Jul 31, 2020
Sleep is important for various reasons. Obviously, if we don’t sleep, we don’t function very well. A good night's rest is equally as important as eating healthy and exercising. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get those hours in and to make sure they are of good quality—whether that’s from a job, illness, family, or other responsibilities that come into play.
For us here at Drip By Sam, we want to talk about how sleep deprivation causes WEIGHT GAIN! Why does this happen?! How can you improve those Zs at night?
We will discuss other reasons as to why sleep is important because these separate topics go hand in hand and all play a major role when it comes to your health and wellness. But first things first: how in the world can sleep cause weight gain?
Why Does Sleep Cause Weight Gain?
In an extensive review study on short duration sleep, children and adults with short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to develop obesity, respectively (Cappucio et. al., 2008). These results derive from many factors, such as hormones or a lack of motivation to workout. If you’re tired, the last thing you want to do is make yourself even more tired, right? With better energy, a workout will be no big deal. Feeling tired will not be an excuse and you will be able to perform.
Good sleep will maximize your performance, whether you are an athlete with a vigorous active schedule or you work out daily. When you are properly rested you will do better. Less sleep follows with poor exercise performance, slow reaction times, and limitations to how you function.
Not being well rested (as many of us have experienced) makes it more difficult to execute in the workplace, at home, with exercise, and in any individual activities. Good sleep will improve your productivity and concentration. That includes improved concentration for solving problems, having a better memory, and a greater ability to make decisions, such as, “What healthy foods should I eat today?” ;) When it comes to decision making—especially with food—sleep deprivation will have an effect on your thoughts and actions.
Those who sleep better tend to eat less calories. Individuals who are sleep deprived have a bigger appetite. A hormone called ghrelin is responsible for stimulating your appetite, while the hormone leptin suppresses your appetite. Sleep deprivation disrupts these hormones and how they fluctuate daily and regularly.
When you are sleep deprived, your body is searching for any way to survive and find the energy to stay awake. To do that, it will increase the release of ghrelin to increase your appetite and get your energy from food—while decreasing the release of leptin. If you get adequate sleep, these hormones will become more regulated and you will consume less calories. This response is what’s said to contribute to the development of obesity. Overeating! Of course, there are other health conditions that can result from weight gain, especially if it’s severe.
Sleep is vital for healing and tissue repair, not only for your muscles, but for your heart, blood vessels, and other organs. Sleep deficiency causes high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes, kidney disease, heart disease, and inflammation. It alters your emotions and can play a role in depression. Poor sleeping patterns are heavily linked to depression, and people who are depressed often complain about poor quality of sleep.
Right beside emotional consequences, brain function, and organ function, is your immune system. Good, quality sleep will boost the function of your immune system! Even the smallest loss of sleep has shown to impair your system. And in this day and age with COVID-19, we better be in the best shape possible to fight off anything that comes our way.
We’ve talked about all the reasons why sleep is important, so how do we fix that? What are some simple changes you can make to get better sleep? Here are some tips that we have found to help a lot.
10 Tips on How to Get Better Sleep Quality:
Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time everyday. Consistency is key!
Get anywhere from 8-10 hours of sleep every night.
The more hours of sleep you get before midnight, the better the quality. Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier!
Start to wind down from your day at least 60 minutes before you go to sleep. This could be when you take a nice bath, open up a book you’ve been reading, or meditate.
Try to avoid as much blue light as possible. Whether that's the TV, your computer, or your phone. No electronics 1-2 hours before you plan to go to sleep. The less blue light the better. Exposure to light controls your body's circadian rhythm or natural sleep and wake cycle. Blue light specifically messes with your body’s ability to produce the hormone melatonin that makes you sleepy.
Turn the thermostat down! Studies have shown that if you sleep in a colder room you will fall asleep quicker. Our bodies naturally drop in temperature when we sleep, so by setting the room to a cooler temperature, you are reinforcing your body's natural instinct to sleep. When it’s too hot, that signal is disrupted. As your temperature decreases right before bed, it also increases as you wake up. Have you ever woke up drenched in sweat and noticed that you were sleeping hot? Keeping the room cool will help avoid the night sweats and allow for better quality sleep. Ideally, you would set your thermostat anywhere from 60-68 degrees. This will help stimulate melatonin to help you fall asleep and keep you cool throughout the night to stay asleep.
Get blackout curtains! Once the sun starts to rise, so do you!
Practice a good sleep regimen during the day. Don’t watch TV or eat in your bed. Train your body so that it knows when you lay down in your bed that it is time to go to sleep. Create a natural response.
Try not to eat anything super heavy, spicy, greasy, or high in sugar before you go to sleep. It's not good for your digestive system and slows down your metabolism. Anything that can take a long time to digest, your body will not only turn it into fat and store it, but you can develop acid reflux, heartburn, or indigestion that can make it hard to fall asleep and/or stay asleep. Ever wake up with a tummy ache? That's no fun if you ask us!
Don’t drink a lot of water before you go to sleep. Take a gulp or two if you desire, but mainly hydrate right when you wake up in the morning and throughout the day. Waking up in the middle of night to pee is not the way to go. Also, who likes having the dream that you have to pee so bad and can’t find the bathroom? That’ll definitely wake you up!
Keep in mind that there are many other factors that can affect your sleep, such as anxiety, caffeine intake, sleep disorders, etc. So the next best thing you can do if these tips don’t work is to start keeping a journal. Write down what you have been doing and see if anything is correlated, and then you will be able to determine if you should go to the doctor for professional advice. We recommend keeping a journal anyway, even if you don’t have an underlying problem.
All in all, having good sleep quality is about staying consistent. Finding a regimen that works for you and your lifestyle! Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of great health. You absolutely cannot have optimal health if you are not getting adequate sleep.
Cappuccio, Francesco P., et al. “Meta-Analysis of Short Sleep Duration and Obesity in Children and Adults.” Sleep, vol. 31, no. 5, 2008, pp. 619–626., doi:10.1093/sleep/31.5.619.