Call it the “Quarantine 15.” For many people, the past 18 months haven’t exactly been kind to the waistline. In fact, more than 54% of U.S. adults reported gaining weight during lockdown, as normal routines fell to the wayside and stress levels reached new highs.
As if the unprecedented disruption in everyday life hasn’t been daunting enough, it has been exacerbated by yet another phenomenon — COVID-somnia – making it even more challenging to reach one’s weight loss goals.
Researchers say there’s a strong link between the nation’s disrupted sleep patterns and collective weight gain. In an article for Neurology Today, sleep experts said shifting daily schedules, excessive daytime napping, bedtime scrolling, and a lack of sunlight exposure have all contributed to throwing internal sleep cycles out of whack.
As life teeters back to normalcy, many people have committed to getting their health back on track. If you’re looking to lose weight, it’s important to know that switching up your diet and exercise routine aren’t the only changes you need to make to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Getting enough sleep is just as essential to start kicking off your weight loss goals.
Why Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Weight Gain
Even when you’ve been hitting the gym regularly and watching your diet, a lack of quality sleep can inhibit your weight loss journey. When you’re sleep deprived, it’s easy to reach for a calorie-filled latte to get through the day. Researchers have also discovered that a lack of sleep can increase a person’s appetite, making them more likely to snack throughout the day or binge on junk food late at night.
In a 2010 report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, fewer hours of sleep were found to be linked to higher rates of obesity, hypertension, and metabolic disorders. Doctors say people who don’t get enough sleep tend to have bodies that produce more ghrelin — a hormone that helps to regulate our appetites — and less leptin, which helps our bodies indicate when we are full. The imbalance makes it that much harder to turn down dessert at dinnertime or to say ‘no’ to that extra slice of greasy pizza during a company lunch.
Researchers have also found that sleep deprivation causes a spike in cortisol that sends signals to your body to conserve its energy by holding on to fat. And when you’re tired, you’re also more likely to lose your will or motivation to exercise or head to the gym.
In fact, one study found that women who slept five hours or less on a regular basis were more likely to gain 30 pounds or more over a 16-year period than their healthy sleep-having counterparts.
The link is clear: People who don’t get enough sleep typically weigh more than those who strive to get the recommended 7 to 8 hours of rest every night.
The Path to Healthy Sleep
When people are looking to create a healthy lifestyle, they often turn to weight loss programs and nutrition experts to help them create change — but they often forget to prioritize one of our body's most essential functions: sleep.
If you’re looking to improve your sleep habits and activate weight loss, diet and exercise remain important factors. For example, you’ll want to avoid eating heavy meals before bedtime and reduce your caffeine intake during the day. You’ll also want to eat a balanced meal with proteins, grains, fruits or vegetables to help fuel your workouts, and may want to schedule your gym sessions earlier in the day so they don’t affect your sleep cycle.
We recommend investing the same amount of effort into creating a sleep routine. If you’re serious about your weight loss goals, it’s important to:
- Set a sleep schedule
- Limit your intake of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine
- Optimize your sleep environment
- Develop a nightly routine
At RealSleep, we can help you achieve quality sleep so that you can get the most out of your weight loss journey. Our personalized, plant-based sleep supplements are taken daily by thousands of customers to help promote a deeper, more restorative sleep. When combined with an effective sleep routine, our customized formulas have helped customers overcome moderate insomnia and initiate a healthy sleep schedule so they can become the best versions of themselves.