A good night’s sleep does more than make you feel refreshed. Getting enough zzz’s can also help you avoid weight gain. In fact, women who sleep five hours or less a night are 15 percent more likely to become obese over the course of 16 years than those who sleep for at least seven hours. Read on to learn more about the surprising connection.
Across the Board
Sleep Halts Snacking
A lack of slumber can cause changes in how your body regulates appetite, triggering cravings—even if you’re not truly hungry. But you won’t be reaching for the veggie platter when you’re sleep-deprived. Instead, you’ll crave foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates, which are no help to your waistline.
Sleep Boosts Calorie Burn
The connection between sleep and the number of calories you burn is two-fold. First, if you’re well rested, you’ll have more energy to be physically active, and any activity—even a brisk walk—can help to torch calories. Second, a healthy sleep schedule can actually keep your metabolism humming, allowing you to burn more calories even when you’re resting.
It helps to control blood sugar.
Deep sleep may be crucial to regulating glucose—that is, carbohydrates including sugar— in the body. Sleeping too little, therefore, could increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. In fact, after sleeping just four hours a night for a week, otherwise healthy people’s ability to break down sugars becomes 40 percent lower than normal—similar to those who don’t make enough insulin and are at risk for diabetes.
Sleep Can Help You Stick to a Diet
Even if you have the best intentions to eat healthfully, a lack of sleep can quickly throw you off track. People who get less than six hours of shut-eye a night are more likely to eat out instead of cooking at home (and restaurant foods tend to be more caloric than foods you eat at your kitchen table). On top of this, if you’re awake late at night, you simply have more hours in the day to give in to the temptation of the cookie jar on your counter.
Of course, getting more sleep isn’t the sole solution to hitting your goal weight, but, when paired with a healthy diet and regular exercise, it can certainly help you peel off the pounds.