We’ve all been told, “Eat less. Workout more. That’s the key to shedding weight.” That’s because the weight loss industry focuses almost exclusively on diet and exercise. But what if someone told you that losing weight can be as easy as turning off the lights, jumping under the covers, and getting some sleep? Too good to be true? Read on!
There are two characters in your hunger story: ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is your body’s hunger hormone, which signals to your body to eat more. Leptin is your satiety hormone, which lets your brain know when you’re full so you stop eating.
On a typical day, ghrelin levels are at their highest before eating and at their lowest about an hour after you’ve finished a meal. Your leptin levels fluctuate depending on your body.
Leptin is produced by your body in proportion to your fat mass. In an average person, leptin levels rise as fat increases to send your brain the message that there’s enough energy stored that food isn’t a priority. If your fat levels decrease, leptin will go down again to encourage you to eat. In cases of obesity, the brain isn’t sensitive enough to leptin signals to recognize how much fat is already stored.
Sounds simple, right? Well, sleep deprivation throws a wrench into the system—completely disrupting this rhythm.
When you’re sleep deprived:
If all this talk about food is making you hungry, check out even more evidence for why sleep beats food for fat loss with our partner Josh Trent at Wellness Force and our CEO Harpreet Rai.
“You are what you eat” applies—even while you’re sleeping.
If you’re looking to build a relationship with food that promotes sleep, try playing with your meal timing or periods of fasting. Keep an eye out for patterns on nights where your heart rate stays elevated for signs that your metabolism is impacting your sleep.