When we are trying to lose weight we will firstly examine our diet and then usually look at the amount of exercise we take. But do we consider the effect sleep could be having on our weight or overall lifestyle. When we think of the most important things that our bodies need, sleep is right up there with food, water and then oxygen. The amount of sleep you get on a daily basis can have a dramatic effect on your health and weight. But do we really know how must sleep we really need?

As a general guide most adults should be aiming to get around 7 – 8 hours a day. Our bodies are all different and some people may find they function at their peak on 6 hours of sleep a day while others may need around 9. Sleep deprivation however is a big problem and if you are only managing around 4-5 hours a night then your body is being deprived of sleep.

Let’s firstly look at the benefits of getting a good night sleep:-

  1. Sleep Naturally Repairs Your Body

Extra protein molecules are produced while you are sleeping which help to fight infection and cells are repaired by your immune system.

  1. Sleep Reduces Stress Levels

A good quality sleep can help lower blood pressure and levels of stress hormones in your body.

  1. Greater Concentration

A good night’s sleep will allow you to concentrate better the following day and will also aid memory function.

  1. More Relaxed

A good sleep will mean you wake up more refreshed and relaxed.

If you are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis then all of the above benefits will be reversed. So this may mean waking up feeling groggy, feeling more stressed and unable to concentrate. You will also be more prone to illness and higher blood pressure. You may think that being deprived of sleep and feeling tired may result in a loss of appetite and weight loss, but the truth is that a lack of sleep may lead to weight gain.

Sleep helps to keep in check the hormones in your body that control your appetite, so if you are not getting enough sleep then your appetite will increase and you will feel even hungrier. Sleep deprivation will cause your body to have reduced energy levels and your body will crave high fat content foods that may give you a temporary boost. These foods tend to be high in calories and salt or sugar; they will not fill you up because they lack nutrition and will leave you sluggish and hungry again very soon.

Nothing will set you better for the day than a good refreshing sleep followed by a well balanced breakfast. To aid your sleep try to limit your consumption of alcohol and spicy foods. Try and unwind naturally before bed with a nice long soak or some relaxation exercises. Try to avoid using alcohol as your main way of unwinding and relieving stress.

If you are looking to lose weight, as well as eating a sensible and balanced diet and taking regular exercise, you need to be getting a good night's sleep every night.