If your goal is weight loss, you'll want to put quality sleep high on your to-do list.
Research Indicates Tired People Eat More
In a review of 11 previous studies, researchers found that people who didn't sleep well the night before ate, on average, 385 more calories the following day while not expending more energy than they otherwise would (H K Al Khatib, 2016). Not only that, but the calories people consumed consisted of more fat and less protein than they would have otherwise eaten.
Someone who is trying to lose weight but who is chronically sleep deprived could very easily find themselves maintaining or even gaining weight.
Why Does Sleep Deprivation Cause Increased Food Intake?
Researchers believe that sleep deprivation disrupts the hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin, in such a way as to cause tired people to eat more.
Also, scientists have found that tired people's brains experience more activity in the reward centers surrounding food than adequately rested people do. In other words, if you're tired, you will be more likely to seek out food for comfort.
So How Can You Sleep Better?
Humans' circadian rhythms evolved to follow normal light patterns. In other words, we sleep when it's dark and are awake when it's light. However, with artificial lighting, shift-work that has people sleeping when it's light out, and exposure to the unnatural blue light of computer screens in the evenings, those natural rhythms can easily become disrupted.
As much as you can, be sure that you are exposed to natural light for at least 15 minutes in the morning. Do so again around midday, for longer if possible.
In the evening, avoid screens or use blue-light-blocking glasses to reduce your exposure to that form of light, which can powerfully interfere with sleep.
Be sure your sleeping area is completely dark. Remove all light sources and use blackout curtains if necessary. If you need an alarm clock, turn it so you can't see it.
If you fall asleep fine but wake up prematurely, you can use this guide for help: "Getting Back to Sleep: 14 Tips for Falling Back to Sleep When You Wake up Too Soon."
Sleep Is Important for More Than Weight Loss
Doing everything you can to ensure that you routinely get an adequate amount of sleep will help you in many ways.
You can learn more here: "14 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep."
- H K Al Khatib, S. V. (2016, Nov. 2). The effects of partial sleep deprivation on energy balance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Retrieved from nature.com: DOI: 10.1038/ejcn.2016.201.