Let’s face it — we all cut corners on sleep. Maybe due to a long commute to work, or early classes, and you just can’t wind down in time to get your full 8 hours. Or maybe stress interferes with your sleep at night.
Whatever the case, it’s not that big a deal, right? There’s always a weekend at some point to catch up.
False. Sleep is a big deal — especially for dieters
There’s been a whole crop of studies in recent years indicating that it is a big deal, however — at least in terms of diet and weight gain.
There’s enough evidence at this point to suggest there’s a definite connection between not getting enough sleep (a minimum of 6 hours per night) and weight gain, or at least an inability to shed unwanted pounds with exercise.
The reason is behavioral. Hedonism at work
Researchers have known about this connection for some time now, but the only aspect that was unclear was exactly by what mechanism extra weight was being put on. Consensus is starting to come down on the side of the “hedonistic” explanation, however — that sleep deprivation increases the desire to eat even when it isn’t necessary.
Being awake longer burns more calories, but not merely enough
Sleep deprivation does increase bodily energy expenditure simply due to the costs of increased periods of wakefulness, but only by roughly about 5% over a normal sleep period. An early study tested otherwise healthy young men by keeping them awake for two nights in a lab environment and found that they had increased self-reported feelings of hunger.
The initial hypothesis was that this was driven by changes in hormones — levels of leptin, the hormone that signals the body that it is full, were significantly reduced while levels of ghrelin, the hormone that triggers appetite, were elevated.
However, the problem with this study is that the young men were fed in an entirely controlled way. Further studies of a similar nature that allowed participants free access to food in a more natural setting couldn’t replicate the change in hormone levels, even though caloric intake still increased and participants still reported greater feelings of hunger after staying up all night.[1,2]
Subjects who don’t sleep crave more junk, more often
Leptin and ghrelin levels may still play some role, but other factors are likely bigger contributors. Other studies show that snacking and a preference for dense foods increases with sleep deprivation, as well as a tendency to add an extra meal to the day. Neuroimaging research has also found that parts of the brain related to hedonistic functions become more active during periods of restricted sleep, particularly when presented with unhealthy food choices as opposed to healthy ones.
Another study focused in on portion size choices by subjects that had both a full night of sleep and a night of sleep deprivation. Meal choices for breakfast didn’t vary, but snacking after breakfast increased significantly after the night of no sleep.
The takeaway from all this is that if you get less sleep than you really need, you’re more likely to sneak snacks and may feel tempted to add an extra meal as well.
Some solutions: Self-awareness leads to self control
Of course, sometimes it’s impossible to avoid shorting yourself on some sleep. But when this happens, be sure to count your calories and macronutrients carefully and ensure cravings aren’t leading you to take in more than you really need without realizing it.
Simply knowing the research will help you recognize when it happens, and fight it with willpower alone.
The day after a night of rough sleep isn’t the most opportune time to be doing math, but remember that caffeine will help a lot with this and it can be had from a bunch of sources that won’t add any calories to your diet!
Pyroxamine is great for appetite suppression, but can’t make up for lost sleep
On this site, we discuss Myokem’s Pyroxamine, a thermogenic fat burner dedicated to keeping you focused and alert while dieting.
Many of the stimulants in the high-energy matrix help to suppress appetite. However, one added ingredient, caralluma fimbriata, an herbal plant extract that has some incredible new research justifying its use an appetite suppressant.
Three cornerstone studies on this ingredient have shown that it works in both humans and rats.[6,7,8] In fact, when rats were exposed to unlimited food, the ones that were given caralluma ate significantly less food.
You can get a free sample of Pyroxamine below and see the best deals online. But it must be noted that if you are chronically getting low amounts of sleep, it will eventually catch up with you and hold your diet back, as the research discussed above has shown.