Sleep and Fat Loss

Sleep and Fat Loss

Sleep is an exceptionally important topic that doesn’t get enough attention for folks trying to lose fat or live a healthy lifestyle. In fact, I’d put the importance of sleep above workouts and clean eating! The only things more important than catching enough ZZZ’s are oxygen and water.

Sleep isn’t exactly the sexiest topic, so most people ignore it as it relates to fitness and fat loss, but sleep and weight are inextricably linked.

Sleep and fat loss: Why is sleep so important?

Nearly 50% of Americans are sleep-deprived. Insufficient sleep is proven to contribute to depression, aging of the skin, weight gain, and lack of concentration and performance. This makes sense, right? We all know that adults need roughly 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night to function WELL.

If you’re willing to geek out for a moment, here’s some of the science behind WHY sleep and weight loss are linked:

  • When you lose sleep, your brain’s frontal activity is reduced. The frontal region of your brain governs impulse control.

    Dulled impulse control = bad decisions = cheesecake at midnight

  • There are two hormones that regulate hunger: leptin and grehlin. Leptin is the hormone that sends the signal your brain that you are full, while grehlin (the little hunger gremlin) signals that you are hungry. In a cruel twist, when you lose sleep, your body produces more grehlin and less leptin!

    That means you are MORE HUNGRY, and when you do eat, you’re LESS SATISFIED.

  • Sleep loss up-regulates another hormone: cortisol. When cortisol stays too high for too long, it signals your body to conserve energy…

    In other words, you store extra fat, especially around your midsection.

  • A recent study showed that a single night of poor sleep can affect your body’s ability to process insulin. Insulin (ANOTHER hormone) tells your fat cells to open up for storage. If your body cannot process insulin, it continues to circulate, which leads to slower metabolism and more fat storage.

So here’s your sleep-loss-fat-gain equation:

Sleep Loss leads to: low impulse control + increased hunger + decreased feelings of fullness + down-regulated metabolism + body in a state of energy conservation = FAT GAIN

Sleep and fat loss — or gain

And there you have the perfect storm for gaining weight – or the reason you struggle to lose weight!

This is all very depressing. Most of us admit that sleep often takes a backseat to all of the other things we need to get done in a day, including exercise and eating right. The reality is that if we want to better our health and happiness, and if fat loss is one of your goals, you MUST NOT IGNORE THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP!

Let’s turn this negative into a positive and focus on HOW you can start getting a better night’s sleep TONIGHT! Here are my favorite tips for getting plenty of Vitamin S:

  • Place more personal value on sleep. YOU have to make it a priority. No one can force you to go to bed when you should, and no one can force you to make changes to your evening routine to foster better sleep…only you can do that by making the commitment.

  • Get more natural light during the day. Our circadian rhythms depend on light. Spend time outside, especially in the morning. This will help to regulate your sleep/wake hormones.

  • Go to bed at the right time and go to bed at the same time every night. Studies show we get our best sleep between 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM. Try to get to bed by 10:00 PM every night.

  • Turn off all electronics an hour before bed and get them OUT of your bedroom! I know this is hard, but throwing the TV out of my bedroom is one of the best things I’ve ever done for my sleep….and my relationship with my husband.

  • Create a sleep routine. We do it for our kids, so why not have our own sleep routine? This might involve taking a warm bath before bed, reading a boring book for 10 minutes, or listening to a sleep meditation.

  • Be ready for bed. I get myself ready for bed – brush teeth, wash face, contacts out – right after dinner. This way, as soon as I start to feel tired while relaxing on the couch, I can go straight to bed. If I have to make too many stops on the way to the bedroom, I’m wide awake again!

  • Sleep in total darkness. Get blackout curtains, dim or cover your alarm clock, and toss your night light. You will get the best sleep ever!

  • Sleep in a cool room. Studies show that people sleep best in rooms that are between 65 and 70 degrees F.

  • Reduce consumption of caffeine and alcohol. Try not to drink or eat foods with caffeine after noon, and go easy on the drinks at night. Both substances disrupt sleep.

  • Don’t eat a large, carb-heavy meal late at night. This will disrupt sleep when your insulin crashes in the middle of the night. Have dinner at a reasonable hour, and if you need a snack before bed, make sure it’s composed mainly of fat and protein, and lower in carbohydrates.

  • Try not to exercise within three hours of going to bed. If you work all day, this is easier said than done, but exercise, especially of the intense variety can get you revved up when you should be winding down.

I will repeat: sleep and fat loss (or gain) are inextricably linked! If you’ve been struggling with your weight, consider getting a better night’s sleep.

My challenge to you is this: for the next four weeks, make sleep a top priority in your life. Pick three of the sleep tips above and put them into action every night…you’ll get the best sleep of your life and you may even release some of that extra weight you’ve been carrying around!


At Kelly Bailey Fitness it is my goal to help women live their happiest and healthiest lives by integrating nutrition, exercise, rest, and sleep! If you are looking for a customized program that will fit your goals and lifestyle, contact me today 

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