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How Sleep Affects Weight Loss

Lack of good, quality sleep can affect us in many ways. You’re no doubt quite familiar with the grogginess of a sleepless or fitful night. Settling into bed, thinking you’re so tired you are sure to drift right off, only to end up tossing and turning for hours. The to-do list running over and over in your head like a broken record. A problem your brain decides that 3:00 am is the perfect time to try to solve. It can be physically and mentally exhausting.

When I don’t sleep well, the next day is like a treadmill on the fastest speed. I’m frazzled, feel perpetually behind, and everything feels difficult. I’m snappish with people and my brain is a fog. Sometimes this becomes a cycle. Not sleeping well on a regular basis can really take a toll. It turns out that poor sleep can also sabotage your weight loss efforts.

In a 14-day study on sleep and diet, people who were all on reduced calorie diets were compared by how much sleep they got each night to determine whether sleep restriction effects weight loss. They found that the amount of sleep DOES significantly contribute to the amount of weight lost at times of decreased calorie intake. They found that insufficient sleep reduced fat loss by 55 percent. Lack of sufficient sleep can compromise the effectiveness of diet interventions. That means that all that work to keep calories down can be thwarted by lack of good sleep. A shortage of sleep was accompanied by increased hunger and increased the hormones that cause us to retain fat. It seems to send the message to the body to hang on to body fat to help cope with the lack of sleep. It also causes an increase in the hormones that reduce energy expenditure, stimulate hunger and food intake, promote retention of fat, and increase glucose production to support the availability of fuel to the tissues. The body must get energy from somewhere, and all that time spent awake means more energy needs for the brain and tissues.

In a longer 6 year study, researchers found that shifting from not enough sleep to getting a full 7-8 hours a day was associated with better weight loss, more willingness to exercise, and fewer cravings for sweet and salty foods during the evening.

If your goal is to lose weight, skipping sleep can seriously compromise your efforts. Getting adequate sleep can help control hunger and get the beneficial effects of a diet. Not getting enough sleep could totally defeat your desired results.

Getting a good night’s sleep is something I’ve struggled with off and on for many years. Some nights, it’s a toss and turn routine just to get to sleep. Other nights, I fall right to sleep but wake up in the middle of the night like a lightning bolt and getting back to sleep is a serious challenge. Although it’s something that occasionally still pops up for me – like it’s my brain’s (very poor) coping strategy for any time I’m excited about something or stressed – I’ve found some things that have dramatically helped me along the way. Even when I struggle now, it’s usually a shorter toss and turn time. Thank goodness! If you are looking for a few steps to help you get better sleep, check out my 5 Steps to Better Sleep.

If it’s something your kids really have a hard time with, I also have a Sleep Better Kit for kids aged 3-9.

My Nervous System Reset Course is for adults who can also benefit from better sleep. Learning how to use your breath in just a few minutes a day, you can relieve stress, balance your energy, and improve your sleep.

If I could help you lose 20-25 pounds over 12 weeks using a completely personalized, holistic approach, would you be interested? I'm putting a few women together over the next 12 weeks and showing them how to go from giving up on the idea of losing weight and feeling energetic to feeling confident, healthy, and excited for life. We don't use any fad diets, or hours and hours in the gym. Just healthy eating and exercise they enjoy. The majority of people doing this with me are able to look and feel their best again.

Would you like to join us? Email me at and share your goals.

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