The Truth About Sleep And Weight Loss

best time to sleep to lose weight

Can your sleep habits affect your weight loss results? And is there such a thing as the best time to sleep to lose weight? This post is all about how sleep impacts weight loss and why you need to prioritize it if you are trying to lose weight.

Nowadays, getting a good night’s sleep is harder and harder. With so much on our plates, it’s no wonder many don’t get enough sleep; a third of the U.S. population, to be exact.

And while most know sleep is essential for our overall health, we often act as though sleep is optional—something we can forgo when we don’t have enough time.

I know I am guilty of this and often struggle to get a good night’s sleep, and for years, I had no idea that sleep could also be sabotaging my weight loss efforts. 

I always knew sleep was important for health reasons, but I only made the weight loss connection a few years ago.

To lose weight, you need to understand all the variables at play. Sleep, or lack of it, is an important variable and one that is often overlooked. Not getting enough sleep can be harmful to your health and weight loss.

This post is all about how sleep affects weight loss and stubborn belly fat. We provide the best time to sleep to lose weight, as well as 15 tips to help you sleep better. 

What Is The Best Time To Sleep To Lose Weight?

Clock showing the best time to sleep to lose weight

It turns out you have a 4-hour window. The best time to go to bed is between 8 pm and 12 am. And the best time to wake up is between 6am and 7am.

Experts say you should try to go to bed during this 4-hour window. But why does the time you go to bed even matter?

It all boils down to sleep quality. We will discuss quality sleep and why between 8pm and 12am is the best time to sleep for weight loss in a bit.

But it’s also about how many hours of sleep you are getting. So, how much do you need? Is 6 hours of sleep enough for weight loss? Not really. Six hours of sleep is insufficient for most. You should aim for 7-9 hours per night.

Can you gain weight from lack of sleep?

Consistently not getting enough sleep has been linked to weight gain and obesity. Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep tend to weigh more than those with good sleep habits and are 55% more likely to become obese.

There are many reasons for this, but one of the reasons for this is the choices we make when we are sleep deprived. We often make poor food choices when we don’t get enough sleep.

Quality vs. Quantity—Are You Getting Quality Sleep?

So how do we quantify a good night of sleep? Is laying in bed for 8 hours, regardless of how long it took to fall asleep, a good night? What is quality sleep?

Sleep quality refers to how fast you fall asleep—being able to fall asleep within 30 minutes, and how long you stay asleep without awakening.

Furthermore, quality sleep means you don’t wake up more than one time per night. And if you do, you can fall back asleep within 20 minutes or less.

And while most of us will probably not be sound asleep 100% of the time, we are in bed; quality sleep is being asleep for at least 85% of that time. So while you need to get enough hours of sleep, the quality of that sleep matters.

What Are The Effects Of Lack Of Sleep?

Will I lose fat if I sleep more

So we now know the best time to sleep to lose weight, but how does lack of sleep really impact our overall health? 

Well, the research is clear; sleep is not an option; it’s essential! It plays a vital role in our mental and physical health. And when we consistently don’t get enough sleep, we are asking for trouble.

Lack of sleep can increase our chances of developing conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, some cancers, dementia, and diabetes

It can also:

  • decrease mental focus
  • affect memory
  • affect coordination and balance
  • increase our chances of aging prematurely
  • affect mood
  • negatively affect reflexes
  • increase hunger pangs
  • weaken the immune system

Why Is Sleep So Important For Weight Loss?

How should I sleep to lose weight

So let’s get back to weight loss and sleep and dive into why your poor sleep habits could sabotage your success. Researchers have found a direct correlation between sleep quality, diet, and weight loss results.

Studies have found that dieters that consistently sleep well at night lose 55% MORE FAT than those that don’t. But how does sleep, or lack of it, affect weight loss?

One word—hormones!

Our hormones play a massive role in our appetite and how much fat the body stores. When we don’t get enough sleep, we throw our hormones out of whack, creating hormonal imbalances.

These hormonal imbalances slow our metabolism, make us feel hungry often, and increase our junk food cravings.

Also, you may need more substantial portions to feel satisfied and have lower energy levels, making exercise more challenging. Ultimately, you end up storing more calories as fat.

The Bottom line is this; your body doesn’t function as well when you are not getting enough sleep, period! So it’s not just about the best time to sleep to lose weight; it’s also about making sure you are getting enough quality sleep.

Hormones that affect weight loss

When we don’t get enough sleep, we negatively affect the hormones ghrelin, leptin, insulin, and cortisol.

Leptin and Ghrelin

Both leptin and ghrelin work together to regulate appetite. In essence, ghrelin is released into your bloodstream when you’re hungry and leptin when you’re full or satiated.

When your stomach is empty, it produces more ghrelin to alert your brain that you are hungry and decreases when you are full.

Leptin—the satiety or starvation hormone, sends signals to a part of the brain called the hypothalamus that you are full. The hypothalamus then suppresses your appetite and lets you know you can stop eating.

But leptin also has another critical function–weight management.

Leptin and weight management

Is it normal to lose 3 pounds overnight

Leptin is one of the key players in weight management and regulates our body weight. 

The body’s fat cells secrete the leptin hormone, and the amount of leptin it releases directly correlates with the amount of body fat a person has.

The more body fat, the more leptin is released. The less body fat, the less leptin is released.

So how does this all tie into our sleep habits?

When we don’t get enough sleep, the body produces more of the hunger hormone ghrelin and less of the satiety hormone leptin. This causes you to feel more hungry and makes it more difficult to control your portion sizes.

Furthermore, the leptin hormone is working against you. Remember, leptin’s primary goal is to help you maintain your current weight—not lose weight!

So unfortunately, this makes the weight loss process much more difficult, especially when we don’t get enough sleep.

Your leptin hormones will elevate and stay elevated when you consistently don’t get enough sleep. And in this case, you may develop a condition called leptin resistance.

Leptin Resistance

While not getting enough sleep may happen occasionally, consistently not getting enough can damage your health and affect your waistline.

Leptin resistance occurs when the part of the brain that controls hunger, the hypothalamus, no longer recognizes leptin’s signals.

When your leptin hormone is impaired, the signal that you are full is not sent to the brain. And you keep eating to feel satiated as your hunger is not satisfied.

You, in turn, eat more than you should, and your metabolic rate decreases. A slower metabolic rate means you burn fewer calories.

The above happens because your body thinks it’s starving and thus tries to conserve energy by decreasing your metabolic rate—the number of calories burned at rest!

Cortisol—the stress hormone

Does sleeping early help you lose weight

One of the hormones that is greatly affected by not getting enough sleep is cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone made by the adrenal gland.

It is often referred to as the stress hormone because it rises to protect the body in stressful situations. The main goal is to ensure the body has enough energy to fight or flight by providing a burst of energy.

But the body must limit the energy used for other processes to provide this energy burst. So how does this work? 

As human beings, our body’s primary function is survival. When our bodies feel endangered, regardless of whether the danger is real or perceived, cortisol rises to ensure we can get out of harm’s way by either fight or flight.

During these stressful situations, functions and processes not vital for survival are suppressed, leaving more energy to escape danger. Our bodies go into survival mode!  

But how does this affect weight loss? One of the processes it suppresses is how it manages glucose. Glucose is generally transported from the blood to the cells to provide the nutrients our muscles need.

But when the body is in survival mode, it only focuses on vital functions and processes required for immediate survival.

As a result, it keeps more glucose in the blood and thus prevents the usual process of transporting glucose to the muscles and cells. 

Aside from the fact that our muscles and cells are not getting the nutrients they need, all of that excess glucose that remains in the blood is eventually stored as fat.

Unfortunatelythis is not good when you are trying to lose weight. But it doesn’t end there.

More glucose in your blood also leads to another problem—it slows down the growth hormone, hindering muscle growth.

The human growth hormone is a small protein that the pituitary gland makes. It stimulates growth, cell production, and cell regeneration.

It is an integral part of human development, controlling the body’s growth and helping control its metabolism. Growth hormones help your body burn fat and build and repair muscles.

How does lack of sleep cause imbalances in the growth hormone?

Well, for one, we produce more of these hormones while asleep. Sleep’s purpose is to rejuvenate, build, and repair the body. You are missing out on these benefits if you are not getting enough sleep.

When this continues to happen, this can affect your overall metabolic rate—your metabolism.

Muscles burn more calories than fat; the more muscles you have, the faster your metabolism. The fewer muscles you have, the slower your metabolism.

Insulin

how should you sleep to lose weight

Insulin is made in the pancreas and is responsible for how the body metabolizes glucose, thus controlling glucose levels in the blood.

It moves glucose out of your blood and into your cells to provide energy. And it’s also known as a storage hormone. It instructs your cells to store the remaining glucose in your muscle and fat cells.

So, how does this affect weight loss?

Like leptin, ghrelin, and cortisol, insulin also responds to poor sleep habits. The body tends to make more insulin when we don’t get enough sleep.

Making more insulin than needed can be problematic because insulin encourages fat cells to store fat and prevents them from breaking down. It’s a storage hormone, after all.

When your insulin levels are low, you burn more fat. When your insulin levels are high, you burn less fat. Lack of sleep could also increase your chances of developing insulin resistance. 

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is one of the main precursors for type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and obesity. It occurs when our cells stop responding to insulin. 

Essentially, insulin can no longer do its job efficiently—move glucose from the blood and into the cells to provide nutrients for energy.

When this happens, more glucose is left in the blood causing high blood sugar levels. 

The more glucose in the blood, the more insulin is released from the pancreas, resulting in more glucose stored as fat.

In summary, lack of sleep affects your body’s ability to respond to insulin. Your body becomes less sensitive to insulin and doesn’t respond as it should. Check out this post for more information on other hormones that affect weight loss.

So focusing on getting enough quality sleep is essential. But remember, between 8pm and 12 am is the best time to sleep to lose weight. Making it a habit to go to bed during this window will also improve your sleep quality; more on this in a bit.

So now that you know how sleep affects weight loss and the best time to sleep to lose weight, let’s get to 15 tips to improve your sleep.

15 Tips To Get Better Sleep

sleeping position to lose belly fat

1. Limit brain stimulation 

Shut off all devices for a couple of hours or at least 1 hour before bed. This means no computer usage, phone usage, not even scrolling Instagram, and no watching television.

2. Read a book

Grab a book to read to help you relax before bed. Choose a relaxing book that doesn’t require much thought and brain stimulation; think boring or soothing. 

Books to try: 

  • Bedtime Stories For Stressed Out Adults by Lucy Mangan. 
  • The Family That Couldn’t Sleep by D T Max
  • The Secret Life Of Sleep by Kat Duff
  • The Power of Now Eckhart Tolle

3. Consider purchasing and using an eye mask

do you lose weight when you sleep hungry

An eye mask helps because it helps you block out all the light when you sleep.

4. Use blackout curtains 

Block-out curtains can help block out all the light in your bedroom to ensure you sleep in complete darkness. But how do blackout curtains help?

The darker the room, the more melatonin will be produced, and melatonin helps you fall asleep, more on melatonin in a bit.

5. Turn off the TV

Electronic devices emit blue light, which can disrupt the circadian rhythm. Also, not watching TV in bed helps, and using your bed only for sleeping signals to the brain you are ready for sleep, making it easier for you to fall asleep when it’s time for rest.

The only exception is reading non-stimulating books to help you fall asleep.

6. Consider light dimmers

Dimmers can help you prepare for sleep. Adjusting the lighting in your home may help relax you before bed, so lower the light an hour before bed in preparation for sleep.

7. Consider taking a supplement like magnesium 30-60 minutes before bed

Magnesium is a natural sleep aid. (400 mg usually works best, but consult your doctor before taking this or other medicines and supplements, including vitamins and minerals).

Other supplements to include:

  • Zinc (50mg)
  • Ashwagandha(600 mg)
  • Gingko Biloba 
  • L-theanine(which helps with relaxation).

8. The Best Time To Sleep To Lose Weight: Choose a bedtime between 8 pm and 12 am  

Does the time you sleep affect weight loss

As previously discussed, the best time to sleep to lose weight is between 8am and 12 am. But why this particular bedtime window? Two words—circadian rhythm!

Circadian rhythm is our body’s 24-hour internal/biological clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle and determines when and what kind of sleep we get.

To understand why 8pm to 12am is the best time to sleep to lose weight, let’s look at the different stages of sleep.

The different stages of sleep

In a typical night’s sleep, you go through several sleep cycles, cycling between NREM(non-REM) and REM sleep.

The closer you get to daylight, the more REM sleep you get, which means you get more Non-REM (deep) sleep in the earlier parts of your entire sleep cycle.

REM and NREM Sleep

REM(rapid eye movement, dream cycle) and NREM sleep are essential. Still, the restorative stage—the stage where the body restores, rebuilds, repairs, and re-energizes itself for the next day happens during the deep sleep stage of sleep—NREM stage.

This stage usually occurs earlier at night, so if you consistently go to bed after midnight, you will limit how much restorative sleep you get.

Going to bed between 8 pm and 12 am allows you the ability to have ample time in both REM and NREM sleep stages.

Choosing the perfect bedtime: best sleep schedule to lose weight

An excellent way to choose an appropriate bedtime and the best time to go to bed for weight loss is to do some tracking.

For a couple of nights, write down when you start to become sleepy and then select a bedtime close to that time.

Be sure that whatever time you choose allows you to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.

9. The Best Time To Sleep To Lose Weight: Be consistent

Now that you have selected the best bedtime try to go to bed at the same time every night, including the weekends!

If you decide to sleep in on the weekends, try not to go more than an hour or two beyond your usual wake-up time. 

Also, try to avoid naps, as naps can interfere with your normal sleep cycle.

Make sure you get up at the same time every morning regardless of how many hours you slept or whether you went to bed later than planned so your body will get used to a regimented sleep pattern, which will help you sleep better long-term.

10. Lower your thermostat

does sleeping in afternoon increase weight

As part of sleep preparation, your body temperature decreases. So, lower your thermostat to start getting cooler several hours before bed or for however long it takes.

This way, by the time you get to bed, you will be at your ideal sleep temperature. The optimal bedroom temperature should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

If this sounds too cold, remember we get better quality sleep at colder temperatures, and you will get used to it; plus, you can always snuggle under your blankets.

So, keep it somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees.

11. Avoid stimulants like caffeine later in the day 

When you have difficulty sleeping, you should be mindful of caffeine intake. Avoid caffeine after 3 pm.

12. Leave the room 

If unable to fall asleep after being in bed for 15 minutes, get up and leave the room. Grab a non-stimulating book, and read it until you feel sleepy.

Then go back to bed, and if you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, repeat the process until you eventually fall asleep.

13. Do not eat big meals close to bedtime

lose weight sleeping position

Eating too close to bedtime may disrupt natural sleep patterns, especially in women.

Several studies on healthy men and women showed that eating too close to bedtime can significantly impact sleep quality, resulting in less time spent in deep sleep stages.

One study also found that eating a big high-calorie meal too close to bedtime increased how long it took to fall asleep. 

Avoid eating too close to bedtime, preferably at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.

14. Purchase a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses

Blue light is a color in the visible light spectrum that can be seen by the human eye. It has a short wavelength that produces a large amount of energy.

It comes from many electronic devices such as phone screens, television, computers, tablet, fluorescent, and LED lights, but primarily from the sun. Electronic devices emit significant amounts of blue light.

But why is blue light so bad when it comes to sleep?

It boosts alertness, makes you more alert, and ultimately makes it harder to fall asleep. Also, the brain can sometimes confuse blue light with sunlight.

Blue light can block melatonin

Blue light has also been found to block the sleep hormone naturally produced by your body, melatonin, which can throw off your body’s natural circadian rhythm.

You can combat this by purchasing blue-light glasses and wearing them close to bedtime, about an hour and a half to 2 hours before bed.

This will help block any high-energy visible blue light from all sources, especially for those who can’t avoid the computer and electronic device usage close to bedtime.

Even if you can completely unplug from all your devices, it is still a good idea to try them as blue light also comes from fluorescent and LED lights.

Just google “blue-light blocking glasses,” and you will find a plethora of options.

15. Consider taking melatonin

Melatonin is a natural supplement that aids in sleep. The body naturally produces melatonin, the melatonin hormone which regulates the sleep-wake cycle.

The supplement can help you fall asleep if you cannot fall asleep on your own.

Final Thoughts On Sleep And Weight Loss

best time to sleep and wake up

Getting enough sleep is a vital part of living a healthy lifestyle. And now you know it can also affect your weight loss results.

Knowing the best time to sleep to lose weight and sticking with that schedule can be very helpful. The one thing to take away from this article is that getting a good night’s sleep is not a bonus; it’s essential!

It’s crucial for your overall health and achieving weight loss success!

Therefore, you need to ensure you are doing everything to keep your hormones balanced, as hormones play a massive role in weight management.

If you liked this article, I would love it if you would share it with a friend. Were you surprised to learn how much sleep affects weight loss?

Do you struggle to get enough sleep? Have you tried any of the above tips, and if so, which one? Let me know down below in the comments.

Other Posts You May Like:

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This post was all about how sleep affects weight loss.

Dee
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