Today’s post is written by Kate Brown, ISSA certified fitness trainer and community director for DailyBurn.
When most people get serious about implementing a weight-loss plan, they know that they need to closely watch their food choices, hydration levels and exercise frequency. They get to work tracking every calorie they put into their mouths, and every calorie they burn in spin class. However, most people do not consider the role that recovery—specifically sleep—plays in their weight-loss plan.
When you ask most people, “How did you sleep?” they will either answer “good” or “bad.” At the most, they may tell you how many hours they slept. But few consider how the quality of the sleep that they get affects everything from memory to muscle growth and repair to appetite.
The Sleep and Weight-Loss Connection
According to a University of Chicago study, an adequate night’s sleep directly causes increased fat loss in dieters. In the study, one group of dieters received inadequate sleep, and one group of dieters received adequate sleep. Although both groups lost weight, the dieters who received adequate sleep lost more than half of the weight from fat, while the group that did not get adequate sleep lost only one quarter of their weight from fat.
During deep sleep, human growth hormone (HGH) is secreted. HGH is a substance naturally occurring within the human body that promotes cell regeneration in your bones, vital organs and muscles and reduces the amount of fat circulating in the body.
How to Improve the Duration and Quality of Your Sleep
If you are not getting enough quality sleep, there are a few things that you can do to maximize fat loss while you sleep.
1. Make time for yourself. Watch one less hour of television or spend one less hour on Facebook. Small sacrifices can lead to big gains in fat loss when you put yourself—and your sleep—first.
2. Turn off the lights. Electronics like televisions and computer screens in the bedroom create artificial light that interfere with your body’s melatonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone that signals to your body that it is time to go to sleep.
3. Empty your head. As they fall asleep, many people think about the things that they have to do the next day. This can cause racing thoughts and increased brain activity, which decreases your ability to fall asleep. Try writing down everything that you need to do in a date book or on a to-do list on your phone. This will help you fall asleep worry-free.
Sleep is an often overlooked weight-loss metric. Sleep tracking improves weight-loss because it allows you to adjust your habits so that you remain in deep sleep longer. If you are trying to lose weight and diet and exercise don’t seem to be doing the trick, try looking at your sleep quality by investing in a sleep-monitoring device. Get those zzzs, ladies! —Jenn