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Imagine that you could meet and befriend two versions of yourself. One is slender and fit, works through the day with enough energy and finishes it off, feeling sleepy and content. The other one has her heart in the right place and attempts to eat healthily and get enough exercise; yet, at the end of the day, she feels groggy, looks tired, and the weight tends to return even she manages to lose a bit.
The two versions of you, different as they may be, have one thing in common: they focus on living relatively healthy.
When both of them are trying to do everything right, why is it that only one of them succeed in looking and feeling great throughout the day? Here is the not-so-known secrets behind weight loss and a couple of likely reasons to your struggles.
The tired truth
Losing weight is as simple as balancing an equation. You should use more energy than you consume to weigh a bit less - and consume more energy than you use to weigh a bit more. Unfortunately, life isn’t as simple as this and a lot can get in the way of this equation, making it less reliable and more unpredictable.
What if you would like to move more and eat less, but your body is constantly craving food and energy?
By having a long look at your sleeping routines, you could find the reason for your increased food cravings and weight loss struggle. The answer to losing weight is, in fact, not always found in moving more - it could be found by going to bed.
How it affects your diet
We need to get enough sleep to feel like ourselves and to perform our best, and most of us know the dreadful feeling of not having slept enough. Walking around in a daze, becoming grumpy over nothing and as sulky as a child; sleep deprivation really can get the best of us.
Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35 percent are unable to get the required amount of sleep to stay healthy. Did you know that the numbers for obesity are almost identical?
In a study that’s explained in the same article, test subjects were assigned different sleep schedules in order to see if there was a connection between the lack of sleep and weight gain. The group that received an adequate amount of sleep - more than seven hours, that is - half of the weight they lost when exercising was from fat.
The other way around, however, and the amount of fat they lost was sliced in half; to make matters worse, they even started to feel hungrier during the day and craved more energy.
The study makes a lot of sense, when you think about it, as not getting enough sleep is a clear signal to your body that it needs to stock up on energy. Maybe it thinks we’re in for some dangerous times where you certainly won’t have time to eat if you don’t have time to sleep - so it would like you to build a nice supply of long-term energy to help you out in the nearby and gloomy future.
It’s fat, by the way, and it’s what you will be storing without sufficient sleep.
Lack of sleep impacts our decision-making
Enough with all the body-talk; you know very well that you should hit the sack in due time to stop feeling hungry. The problem with sleep deprivation, though, besides from making us fatigued and craving junk food, is that it seriously affects your cognitive abilities.
As little as one night without enough sleep can be sufficient to affect the activity in your frontal-lobe which is the centre for complex-decision making. It’s the one you’re using when convincing yourself to cook up a healthy meal at home rather than making a quick drive to McDonald’s - and anyone who has been in this situation knows just how complex a decision like this can be.
When you walk around feeling hungry and fatigued most of the day and have the added benefit of being in a state that’s pretty close to being drunk, a fast food decision is quite a lot likelier than the hassle of cooking.
What would drunken you have chosen when you’re tired and hungry? Probably not the tedious task of preparing a healthy meal.
Needless to say, constantly depriving yourself of sleep will basically beat the purpose of staying true to an exercise schedule. Not just because you won’t have the energy for it in the first place, but also because sleep debt decreases protein synthesis which is our bodies ability to build muscle.
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You won’t be recovering as well either even if you do force yourself to go to the gym, as the best kind of recovery and muscle growth happens when we produce the growth hormone. It happens, of course, when we sleep - and the lack of it can even slow the entire production down as the stress hormone cortisol takes over instead.
It’s not good news for your health goals, that’s for sure.
I’m not getting enough sleep! What can I do?
Sometimes, it’s not the lack of time to spend in dreamland that’s the problem as much as your quality of sleep. There are so many tips and tricks to how you can improve your sleep, and the best thing you can do is to try and identify the reason for the poor quality.
If you wake up warm and sweaty, your bedroom might be a lot warmer than it should be. When you lay awake for hours without falling asleep as you can’t make your thoughts keep quiet, consider meditation and reap the benefits of self-hypnosis by creating a routine before going to bed. It will tune your mind to sleep-mode and help you with getting enough hours.
Start by going to bed and rising at the same time, implement a calming bedtime routine an hour or two before going to bed, and treat yourself to a warm shower before entering the cool bedroom.
On the days you wake up without having slept enough, feed your food cravings with shakes to help your diet, and make sure you get enough water to stay sharp.
You will feel a bit hungrier, though, so try to put a damper on the cravings by snacking on fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Apples, berries, melon, and cucumber are good choices for everyone, sleep deprived or not. It’s kind of like allowing that voice of reason to sneak up on you when you’re out partying and, even though you’re not quite yourself, you’ll be able to make sensible decisions nonetheless.
Or do as you should do when you’ve had one too many; tell a friend that you haven’t slept enough tonight and should be parented towards proper decision-making. Here is a wonderfully comprehensive article to help you sort your sleep cycle out, by the way, so that you can achieve those weight goals as soon as possible.
Not treating yourself to adequate hours of sleep is not a sign of someone who leads a busy and modern life. It’s just a sign of someone who isn’t taking care of themselves, kind of like those who forget to drink water during the day and complain about feeling drained and fatigued by lunch time.
You’re responsible for your own health and should never let anyone decide for you. If your work is getting in your way of rest and relaxation, you need to slow down and have a talk with your boss - no company is worth risking your health over.
Get your priorities straight, prioritise sleep, and enjoy the wonderful feeling of being completely rested.