So you have made up your mind to lose weight. You are eating right, drinking right, and exercising regularly; but, those kilograms just will not let go! You may wonder what you are doing wrong. Honestly, there are a variety of reasons that could explain your sluggish weight loss, but you may be overlooking one particular factor—sleep. Yes, research has proved, sleep is just as important as exercise when it comes to losing weight. However, sleep is as necessary for your brain as it is for your body.
Mind over matterIf you are like most people, then one of your greatest challenges in losing weight is eating healthy. You know which foods are good for you and which ones are not. Nevertheless, you experience cravings for unhealthy foods and must make it up in your mind to ignore those cravings and eat something healthy instead. Certainly, you are not alone in this struggle. As a matter of fact, you can blame your brain. One structure, the amygdala, and two regions, the frontal cortex and insular cortex, play a bit of a battle in your brain every time you eat. The amygdala gives you your appetite while the frontal cortex and insular cortex control judgment and emotion, respectively. In other words, the amygdala makes you crave something sweet, but the frontal cortex makes you decide to eat a piece of fruit. The insular cortex may make you feel sad about that decision at first until later when you feel a sense of pride for making a healthy choice.
Sleep Deprivation blends the line between appetite and hungerSuccessful weight loss also depends on understanding the difference between appetite and hunger. Hunger results from your body telling your brain that it needs food for energy. It is often accompanied by stomach pains or fatigue. On the other hand, appetite drives your cravings whether you are hungry or not. Appetite is especially evident after a full meal when you still make room for dessert. Well, a recent study discovered that sleep not only greatly affects the amygdala, frontal cortex, and insular cortex, but also blends the line between appetite and hunger. When you do not get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night, both your brain and body become sleep deprived. Lack of sleep increases ghrelin levels making you hungry, and decreases leptin levels making it more difficult for you to feel full. Additionally, sleep deprivation makes you insulin resistant similar to Type II diabetes. Consequently, the brain submits to your appetite and is less inclined to make healthy decisions. Therefore, no matter how healthy your lifestyle may be it is only as healthy as the amount of sleep you get each night.
Better Sleep = Better HealthYou really cannot ignore all the health benefits of sleep:
- Healthy skin
- Better cognition
- Reduced appetite
- Stronger immunity
- Balanced blood sugar