Happy World Sleep Day!
Sleep is considered a luxury these days. Most of us are lucky if we get at most 5-6 hours of sleep. We rarely pay attention to this. Understandably, working to pay our bills looks more important than a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is one of the three pillars of health. Unknown to us, our body depends on the time we sleep to get a lot of background metabolic processes, like detoxification, out of the way.
Furthermore, recent studies suggest that poor sleep can significantly affect your ability to make healthy food choices and stay on track with your fitness goals, making it all the more important to prioritize a good night’s rest.
How Does Poor Sleep Impact Health?
Getting 7-9 hours of sleep every 24 hours is essential.
It can also impact your cognitive ability by interfering with memory, attention, brain function, and alertness.
Sleep deficiency is also linked to injury risk in adults, teens, and children.
Sleep and Diet: What’s The Connection?
Sleep plays a critical role in regulating our appetite and eating behaviors.
This can lead to overeating and increase the risk of obesity.
For example, ghrelin is an appetite-regulating hormone that signals to the brain that you are hungry and your body needs food.
Lack of sleep can increase the ghrelin hormone levels, making us more hungry than usual.
Furthermore, it can decrease the levels of another hormone called leptin, which signals the feeling of fullness to the brain, thereby suppressing appetite.
Increased levels of ghrelin and decreased levels of leptin can lead to overeating.
Poor sleep also affects what food we pick to eat.
Studies have shown that sleep-deprived people tend to go for unhealthy foods that are high in calories over nutritious foods.
Overall, poor sleep can lead to overeating and poor nutritional choices, leading to weight gain and several other chronic diseases.
Sleep and Exercise Motivation: What’s The Connection?
A lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can lead to fatigue and lethargy, making it harder to feel motivated to exercise.
According to a study, adequate sleep helps motivate people to stick to the exercise routine.
In this study, the more sleep participants got, the more likely they were to complete the exercise regimen.
Sleep deprivation can result in earlier onset of exhaustion, leading to a lower tolerance for physical activity.
Sleeping well supports our body’s recovery process, helping us feel more energized.
This can help us stay motivated and achieve our fitness goals.
Poor Sleep And Adherence To Lifestyle Modifications: The Study
A preliminary research study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2023 examined how sleep quality and behavior affect a person’s diet and exercise patterns.
The researchers designed a 12-month weight loss program to examine whether good sleep health made people adhere to weight loss-related lifestyle modifications better than bad sleep health.
|No. of participants
|Pre-existing health conditions
Participants sleep habits were measured three times during the study period:
- At the beginning
- Six months
- End of the study
Tools like questionnaires, sleep dairy, and reading from wrist-worn devices were used to measure sleep habits.
Upon measuring the score, the researchers scored each participant from 0-6, with higher scores falling under the “good” criterion and lower scores under the “poor” criterion, based on six criteria:
- Sleep regularly
- Sleep satisfaction
- Sleep timing
- Sleep efficiency
- Sleep duration
Adherence to the weight loss program was measured by:
- Percentage of group intervention sessions attended
- Percentage of days participants ate between 85-115% of their recommended calories
- Change in duration of moderate to vigorous physical activities
The average sleep health score of the participants in the study period was 4.5 out of 6.
At the end of the study, the researchers observed that the participants who scored higher in sleep health were more likely to attend group sessions and stick to their caloric intake goals.
First six months
- 79% of participants attended group sessions
- Met caloric intake goal in 36% of the days
- Increased their moderate-vigorous physical activity time by 8.7 minutes
Last six months
- 62% of participants attended group sessions
- Met caloric intake goal in 21% of the days
- Increased their moderate-vigorous physical activity time by 3.7 minutes
The decrease in the metrics observed in the last six months was expected, says one of the authors, Kline.
The adherence to weight loss behaviors tends to taper as one continuous in a long-term intervention.
Further, there was an association between better sleep health scores and increased physical activity. But the results were statistically insignificant.
The study results suggest that optimizing sleep can lead to better adherence to weight loss-related lifestyle modifications.
- Researchers did not use a “control” group. Thus, a comparison could not be made.
- Only an association between better sleep and adherence was provided. The cause behind this was not explored.
- The association between better sleep and more physical activity is statistically insignificant.
3 Most Effective Tips To Improve Your Sleep
While there are many ways to improve your sleep and fix your sleep cycle, three of the most effective ones are:
- Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule: One of the most effective ways to improve your sleep is to establish a regular sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up simultaneously every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock and can improve the quality of your sleep.
- Developing a bedtime routine: A relaxing bedtime routine can help you wind down before sleep. This can include activities such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, or practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. Avoid using electronic devices such as phones or tablets, as the blue light emitted by these devices can interfere with sleep.
- Creating a comfortable sleep environment: Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. This means building a calm, dark, and quiet environment. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows, and consider using blackout curtains or a white noise machine to block out any external noise or light. Avoid eating heavy meals or consuming caffeine or alcohol before bed, as these can interfere with sleep.
Your sleep habits affect what you eat and your exercise behavior via several physiological modifications.
Poor sleep can increase the hunger hormone and decrease the satiety hormone levels, making you overeat and gain weight.
If you don’t get enough rest, it can result in persistent fatigue and inadequate repair, leading to injuries and a lack of motivation to exercise.
According to a recent study, people who slept better were more likely to adhere to weight loss interventions and their caloric intake goals.