Poor sleeping habits may be the reason you are not losing weight.
Weight loss extends beyond diet and exercise, and even if you are eating the best keto diet, you may still struggle to lose weight if you have poor sleeping habits.
Because insufficient sleep and poor sleeping habits significantly influence food choices and metabolism, it makes sense to address the lack of sleep before asking why you are not losing weight on keto.
In this post, I cover sleep quality and quantity and give some tips on implementing good sleeping habits.
The Importance Of Sleep
We all understand the importance of getting enough sleep. Yet, so many people take it for granted. According to the Sleep Cycle app, the average time South Africans go to bed is at 11pm.
Sleep is the most important thing you can do for your health. More important than exercise or diet.
Ever had too little sleep and felt groggy the next day?
Poor sleeping habits cause:
- A decrease in insulin sensitivity,
- Increases cravings for carbohydrate-rich food and sugar,
- A significant decrease in mental and physical performance.
When we sleep, we give our bodies time to mentally and physically recover from the day.
How Sleep Quality and Sleep Quantity Impacts Weight Loss
Sleep quantity and sleep quality are equally important (for weight loss). Your sleep quantity refers to the number of hours spent sleeping. Not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to your health and the effects of too little sleep are quite significant.
Sleep deprivation negatively affects our bodies and minds, and not getting enough snooze hours can:
- Reduced alertness and attention span,
- Lead to short-term memory loss,
- Impair reaction time and reflexes,
- Cause aching muscles and muscle fatigue,
- Cause hand tremors,
- Cause dark circles under the eyes,
- Lead to mood swings, irritability and confusion.
You may have also heard that you can never “catch up” on any hours of missed sleep!
A lack of sleep impacts our hormones and how they regulate appetite and weight loss.
Ever had a sleepless night and felt extra hungry the next day? That’s your appetite-regulating hormone called ghrelin. Activating ghrelin is the body’s way to say it doesn’t have energy and wants food. This feeling of being hungry can lead to overeating and lead to higher glucose levels.
One study showed that after just one week of 5 hours of sleep, men’s testosterone was shown to drop 10 to 15%.
Lack of sleep reduces willpower and, based on the research mentioned above, significantly influences your metabolism. Not only do cravings increase, but when people give in to them, their bodies may more easily convert those foods to extra body fat and can hamper your weight loss.
Making small improvements to your lifestyle can result in huge health benefits improving your sleeping habits from getting enough sleep.
There is much debate on how much sleep we should be getting. But, what we do know is that our sleep quality is equally important as sleep quantity.
Sleep quality is the time spent in deep sleep and REM sleep. Say you are getting 7–8 hours of sleep every night, but you are tossing and turning, and in a light state of sleep, you will probably still wake up feeling groggy.
During deep sleep, the body physically recovers, and the body releases its highest levels of growth hormone.
Deep sleep typically takes place in the first third to half of the night. To maximize deep sleep, it seems that getting to bed well before midnight is helpful.
REM sleep is the state that supports brain function and enhances memory. REM sleep is at its peak in the second half to the final third of the night. It is suggested that dreams are the most vibrant during this state, and that why we often remember a dream when the alarm goes off.
5 Ways To Improve Sleep Quality:
- Keep your room cool. Turn down the heat, open a window or turn up the air conditioning. An ideal room temperature of about 19 degrees celsius. When we fall asleep, our bodies naturally cool off. So, lower temperatures may help with deeper sleep.
- Avoid blue light from electronics at least an hour before bedtime. Blue light limits the production of melatonin, the hormone that tells the body it’s time to start switching off. Wearing blue-light blocking glasses after sunset may help limit the effect of blue light from electronics and suppression of melatonin. If you have a smartphone, you can activate “night shift” in your phone’s display settings. The simplest is to set it for “sunrise to sunset”, automatically adjusting it, and you never have to worry about it again. If you have to work on your computer at night, install flux.com. This nifty app automatically changes the colour of your screen to block the blue light.
- Supplementing with good magnesium may also help if you have trouble sleeping. Magnesium regulates approximately 300 biochemical processes in the body. One has is the calming effect it has on the body. Most people are deficient in magnesium, and people who follow a ketogenic diet need to supplement with approximately 250-450mg of magnesium daily.
- Keep your room as dark as possible. Even though our eyes are closed when we sleep, the skin still senses light, and any form of light interferes with sleep quality. The same applies to kids. Teach children to sleep in a dark room without a nightlight or the passage light. And, don’t expose them to bright light before they have to go to bed. Invest in black-out curtains to keep your bedroom as dark as possible.
- Avoid high-intensity exercise too close to bedtime. HIIT may elevate cortisol levels, which should be at their lowest before bed, and not in an elevated state.
Improved Sleep Hygiene Habits To Increase Sleep Quantity:
- Go to bed at the same time every night. When we do this, the body becomes accustomed to bedtime, and you’ll fall asleep faster. Anytime from 9h00 or 9h30, being in bed and reading can give your body enough time to start relaxing in preparation for sleep.
- Turn down the lights and stop watching TV or using your computer an hour before bedtime.
- Drink herbal tea such as chamomile or lavender.
- Reading a good book or spending quality time with your family in the evening is invaluable.
Getting adequate sleep and waking up refreshed and energized will improve your overall health. Sure, seasons in our lives influence the quality and quantity of sleep we may be getting. A new baby or a project you are working on is part of life, but it is only a season. Even during these situations or seasons, we should prioritize sleep. Be purposeful when it comes to prioritizing sleep. Bad habits form so quickly and easily.
If you have bad sleeping habits and struggle with sleep, choose one or two of the suggestions I mentioned in this post and see what a considerable impact good sleep can have on your weight loss, moods and energy!
If you want to learn more on this topic, I would suggest following the work of Dr Matthew Walker, the author of Why We Sleep.
Update: May 2021 – My latest (binge-worthy) podcast is from Dr. Andrew Huberman. His Podcast, The Huberman Lab, discusses neuroscience of how the brain works. He simple, inexpensive ways we can help reset our internal clock and optimize the body, mind and sleep. I’ve just finished Episodes 2 and 3 and learned a ton of things on how to maximize sleep. I’ll be sharing more tips from his podcast soon.