Losing weight is consistently one of the top resolutions made at the start of a new year.  If you made a resolution to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle, you are not alone!

Did you also include a goal to get more sleep?  If you don’t include sleep as part of your weight loss plan, you may unknowingly sabotage your efforts.

Have you ever said (or thought):

  • I have “fat” genes. Your genetic makeup can absolutely influence your ability to lose weight.  But getting enough sleep can help you decrease the control that genes have in achieving your weight loss goals.
  • I can just exercise more. Sounds like a great idea!  But if an early morning exercise routine limits your available sleep time, your workout isn’t likely to be as effective.
  • I can get all the sleep I need on the weekends. You really can’t cut back on sleep during the week and hope to make it up on the weekend.  Even losing 30 minutes of sleep during the week can work against your best weight loss plan.

What is that sleep/weight loss connection?  Very simply, sleep (or lack thereof) is connected to two hormones that that regulate appetite.

Leptin, sometimes called the “stop” hormone, tells your brain when you are full (and you should stop eating).  When you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t have time to produce enough leptin.  Without enough leptin you can feel constantly hungry.  Even worse, the body wants to store more calories as fat, thinking that you might need that energy later.

Ghrelin, sometimes called the “go” hormone, is really the opposite of Leptin.  It tells your body when you need to eat, and when it should stop burning calories.  When you’re asleep, ghrelin levels drop, since sleep doesn’t require as much energy as being awake.  Don’t sleep enough? The level of ghrelin remains too high. You want to eat more, and will want to make bad food choices.

Sleep deprivation = too much ghrelin, and too little leptin.  Very bad combo. You are hungry and tired.  And keeping that resolution will be much harder than it could be!