We realize the Internet (and even our site) is flooded with weight-loss tips. And there’s no way you could possibly adhere to all of them, especially considering more than a few contradict each other. Often the more out-there advice monopolizes the conversation (think infrared saunas, cryotherapy, and intermittent fasting), but health and wellness expert Dr. Frank Lipman reminds us that sometimes the simplest tip can have the biggest effect. His top weight-loss tip is one you’ve heard a thousand times, but you probably don’t take it seriously—and you should, because there are mounds of scientific evidence backing it. The tip? Sleep. Before you write it off and click back to Facebook, find out how lack of sleep really affects your body.
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Too much cortisol (aka the stress hormone) damages the adrenal glands, which hinders your body’s ability to digest and efficiently metabolize food. It increases your blood sugar, lowers the rate at which you burn calories, and causes your body to store more fat (particularly in your midsection). “The stress hormone actually cues your body to hold onto fat,” Dr. Lipman says. And it’s not only your stress levels that control the release of cortisol, but also how much sleep you get. “Too little sleep triggers the release of too much cortisol.”
“Lack of sleep increases the amount of the hormone ghrelin in the body,” Dr. Lipman says. “The higher the levels of ghrelin, the hungrier you feel.” Dr. Lipman notes that this also triggers cravings for sugar, carbohydrates, and caffeine. Sleep affects another hunger-related hormone, too. “At the same time, lack of sleep leads to a lack of leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full.” So, you’re hungrier with a decreased ability to feel full—a lose-lose situation.
When it comes to fat burning, your body has two modes: storage mode and burn mode. High levels of glucagon translate into more time spent in fat-burning mode. “Glucagon is an essential hormone for fat burning,” Dr. Lipman says. “Without enough sleep, those levels will drop, and you’ll have a much harder time losing weight.” Not enough blood sugar–regulating adiponectin is another result of sleep deprivation. “This hormone helps break down fat and promotes insulin sensitivity, and without adequate amounts, you’re much more likely to gain unwanted weight.”
Convinced it’s time to get some real, restorative shut-eye? Scroll through for our favorite products to help you get the best night’s sleep possible!
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