Sleep is possibly the most crucial element to weight loss and gain. My experience, articles, and studies, validate this claim. When weight loss and overall well being are your intention, prevention of sleep deprivation must reign supreme. Mental clarity, metabolism, health risks, and a plethora of plaguing reactions occur without enough zzz’s. Consequently when high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, exist quality sleep is interrupted and may prevent sleep, creating a host of problems related to sleep deprivation and weight gain. If weight loss seems stunted, examining your stress and sleep levels, may be an immediate solution to effectively rev the engine for optimal forward motion.

Sleep deprivation affects the brain’s frontal lobe, the focal point for decision making and impulse control. Like being drunk, the lack of mental clarity, the reaction time slowed, and ability to respond responsibly, negatively impact choices. Several studies show that with less sleep, high fat and high-carbohydrate snacks are craved and consumed, late night eating and increased cravings occur, and receiving comfort by utilizing food to relieve the discomfort of lack of sleep is common. Without effective quality and amounts of sleep, attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving skills are impaired and decrease successful weight loss attempts.

Imperative also is to recognize how quality and amount of sleep affect the metabolism from functioning properly.  Author, Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep and clinical director of the sleep division of Arrowhead Health in Glendale, AZ, states that receiving enough sleep affects nightly hormones. Ghrelin, the hormone that signals when to eat elevates with sleep deprivation, while leptin, the hormone that controls satiety decreases. Additionally, less than seven hours of nightly sleep affects glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, determining how well the body can metabolize energy from foods containing carbohydrates.

A host of other ailments are conclusively impacted by sleep deprivation. Insomnia increases the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. Greater sleep deprivation may attribute to lower levels of libido, hence affecting sex lives as well. Less than six hours of sleep has been associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Lack of sleep also ages skin, causing puffy eyes, dreary skin, and fine lines. Without solid sleep, the stress hormone, cortisol, may break down collagen that maintains skin’s smooth elasticity, while the growth hormone that thickens skin, thickens bones, and increases muscle mass, lessens.

Necessary sleep is vital for optimal health. Affecting decision making, metabolism, cravings, hormones, health risks, libido, depression and anxiety, skin, and overall well being, the connection between sleep deprivation and weight loss efforts is immense. Seven to nine hours of slumber per night requires due diligence. Utilizing magnesium, or a calming routine to encourage immediate and quality sleep is helpful. Reducing stress via meditation, healthy food, and a calmer lifestyle, to prevent cortisol levels from rising, while reducing caffeinated beverages in the afternoon are also supportive processes. Optimal sleep is a definite prerequisite for weight loss management; be sure your getting your essential zzz’s.