Everyone knows losing weight entails eating healthy food, avoiding junk food, and drinking water, but what if there were a factor even more important, something that could actually improve the results you get from both exercise and nutrition?
There is something. Sleep.
Believe it or not, sleep is the most important thing you can do if you’re trying to lose weight, stay in shape, or reach the level of fitness you desire. Getting the right amount of good-quality sleep can make or break even the most dedicated efforts to achieve better health and wellness.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
As humans, we consider ourselves advanced and highly evolved. But when it comes to our physiology, we’re still in the Stone Age. Our bodies are used to sleeping when it gets dark and waking up when it’s light. That’s a window of seven to ten hours. And everyone should be getting at least seven hours of sleep each night.
Why Is Sleep So Important For Weight Loss?
Every bodily function depends on sleep. From regulating blood pressure to fighting off sugar cravings, good sleep is essential to weight loss. Why is sleep so critical? Your body is designed to perceive a lack of sleep as stress, and, unfortunately, it can’t tell the difference between stress from working long hours or stress from, say, being chased by a lion.
Stress is all the same to your body, which responds by releasing chemicals—specifically, adrenaline and cortisol—into your bloodstream. The way your body sees it, stress is a sign to get ready to fight for survival, so it signals hormones to help you pack in more food for energy to fight. In other words, you get hungry.
Those same hormones also signal your body to hold onto as much stored fat as possible. So, you’re hungrier, you’re eating more, and you’re storing weight. All because you have a big deadline coming up.
When you’re having a marathon day at work, and you’re working into the wee hours of the morning up against a deadline, your body is screaming for sleep. You, of course, keep working and tell your body, “Sorry, no time for sleep now. We’ve got work to do.”