Not catching enough zzz’s sparks several reactions in your body, making it much more difficult to shed those extra pounds and keep them from coming back. We turned to Dr. Frank Lipman, integrative and functional medicine physician and founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, to find out how a lack of sleep really affects your weight. Here’s what you should know:
It sets off your stress hormones. “Too little sleep triggers the release of too much cortisol, the stress hormone that actually cues your body to hold on to fat!”
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It makes you hungry. Dr. Lipman explains that not hitting the pillow for the recommended amount of time (the National Sleep Foundation says adults ages 26–64 should get between seven and nine hours a night), makes us more hungry and also elicits cravings for sugar, carbs and caffeine. “Lack of sleep also increases the amount of the hormone ghrelin in your body, which causes you to get hungry. At the same time, little sleep leads to a lack of enough leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full. It’s a double whammy!”
Your ability to burn fat decreases. “The levels of glucagon, an essential hormone for proper fat burning, in your body begin to drop when your body doesn’t get enough sleep, making it harder to lose weight.” A similar thing happens with the hormone adiponectin, which helps break down fat and promote insulin sensitivity. “Without adequate amounts of this hormone, you’re much more likely to gain unwanted weight.”
“We are a sleep-deprived nation, and it’s time to make sleep a priority,” says the doctor. “Lack of sleep not only makes you groggy and foggy—it makes you fat.” To boost your shut-eye time, try spritzing lavender spray on your pillow or changing up your before-bed routine to create a more restful state that promotes better sleep.