The Importance of Sleep in Your Weight Loss Journey

A young woman peacefully sleeping in bed, illustrating the importance of sleep in the weight loss journey.

Photo by Miriam Alonso

When trying to lose weight, we often focus on diet and exercise. Another important factor we tend to overlook is sleep. This should not come as a surprise to you, since Singaporeans are among the most sleep-deprived people in the world. Over half of the population gets less than the recommended seven hours of sleep every night.

Adequate sleep is not just essential for overall health but also for effective weight management. Understanding how sleep affects body weight is key to achieving your health and fitness goals.

How sleep affects weight regulation

Sleep, or the lack of it, affects your weight loss journey in a few ways.

Metabolic function: When you don't get enough sleep, your hunger hormones go out of whack. You end up with more ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and less leptin (the fullness hormone), making you feel hungry all the time and prone to overeating.

Energy balance: Not catching enough sleep messes with your body's insulin sensitivity, which can affect your body’s ability to regulate your sugar level. Plus, feeling tired means you're less likely to move around, which doesn't help when you're trying to lose those pounds.

Cognitive function: Being tired affects your brain's decision-making skills and self-control, making it harder to say no to unhealthy snacks. On the flip side, when you're well-rested, you're better at making smart food choices.

Tips for better sleep

Now that you know the significance of sleep in supporting your weight loss efforts, here are some tips to get a good night’s rest.

Stick to a schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends and public holidays. This helps keep your body's clock in check and improves sleep quality.

Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Wind down before bed with relaxing activities to signal to your body that it's time to sleep. Some activities that can help are reading, writing a journal entry, taking a warm bath or doing deep breathing exercises.

Optimise your sleep environment: Keep your bedroom cool and dark to make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Invest in a comfortable mattress and good pillows. Consider using blackout curtains to block out any disruptive light. A set of ear plugs can help if you need to block out disturbing noise.

Limit screen time: Exposure to screens that emit blue light, such as smartphones and computers, can interfere with the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles. Put away electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime to promote better sleep.

Prioritising sleep for weight loss

Making sleep a priority isn't something you can do overnight, but small changes can make a big difference. Pay attention to how you feel after a good night's sleep compared to a restless one, and keep track of your progress to stay motivated.

If part of your weight loss plan includes finding the right diet, check out HealthFull meals that can help you lose weight healthily with delicious local favourites.

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