You don’t have to be an expert to appreciate the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep. Not only does lack of sleep make you feel groggy and irritable, but sleep also plays a critical role in everything from boosting your immune system to improving your memory and more. But did you know that getting the right amount of sleep can also help you avoid gaining weight? That’s right. Lack of sleep won’t just make you tired—it can also be bad for your waistline.
Statistically, those who sleep less than 6 hours a night consume about 400 extra calories a day, even more, these calories tend to come from sugary processed foods.
When you’re tired, your body produces a hunger-stimulating hormone called ghrelin. At the same time, the hormone that makes you feel satisfied, called leptin, drops. As a result, you may have mad cravings for foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates, just because you haven’t been getting enough sleep.
Another important hormone called cortisol is what helps our bodies naturally wake up in the morning and fall asleep at night. Right before waking up, cortisol is at its peak and continues to fall slowly throughout the day until it reaches its lowest at night-signaling to the body that it’s time to sleep. When we don’t get enough sleep, cortisol will not fall over the course of the day as it should. And, when our cortisol levels are higher for longer, it signals to the body that it should store fat and use muscle for energy.
When it comes to the ideal amount of sleep, everyone is different. How much sleep you need depends on a lot of things, including genetic factors, your health, and the amount of exercise you get. But as a general rule, most adults need around 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Getting enough sleep can help you maintain a healthy weight, but it’s just one of many factors. If you want to prevent weight gain or lose weight, be sure to eat a healthy diet and cut back on snacks and empty calories.