Friday, March 15, 2013

Sleeping In? You Could Be Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals

I've got some news for you.  If you've changed your eating habits, started to workout each week, given up your daily glass of wine, and you still aren't losing weight, you may need to rethink your sleep routine.

Source: iStock Photo

Don't click away from this post yet....because if you aren't trying to lose weight this is still very important.  If you don't get quality sleep, or enough sleep, I'll tell you right now your weight might just start creeping up on you before you know it.  Go ahead and type the words "sleep, weight gain" into Google or any other search engine and you will get thousands of articles.  Watch your nightly news for a week straight and you're also bound to see at least one story about a new study on the importance of sleep when it comes to weight loss/weight management (and, let's face it, health!). Here are three articles that I thought were worth sharing, in order to get my point across;

I really want to focus on that last one.  Do you remember hating Mondays as a child because it was more difficult to wake up on time after sleeping in so much on the weekends (here's a story, my 16 year old brother sleeps in until 11am on the weekends....yeah.  What?!).  The thing is, as children we actually need more sleep, especially as teens, but as we grow older sleeping-in just makes our "sleep situation" worse, and throws off our sleep cycle, literally.   Here is another article to support the claim that sleeping-in is probably not doing your body, or your weight loss efforts, any good.  They've coined a phrase called "Social Jet Lag".  It's interesting, and really makes a lot of sense.  Believe it or not one of the first goals I often give to my patients who are trying to lose (or maintain) weight is, "Get on a normal sleep schedule. Period".
NOTE:  If sleeping in is normal for you, and you also go to bed really late (and get an average of 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night) then I think that's just fine! 

About 8 years ago I started not sleeping in on the weekends (or any day, really, as I don't need to be at work until 10am, yet I still wake up at 6:30 am).  About 99% of the time I wake up before 7am. This is even if I go to bed after 1pm.  Yes, really.  And you know what? I have felt better mentally and physically, since not sleeping in, than ever before.  Coincidence? I think not.

Even when Nick and I go on mini-vacations,we tend not to sleep in (well, typically).  When we went on a weekend excursion last month we planned room service for 8am the following morning, just to force us out of bed.  Food always works (and coffee, of course).

Not getting good sleep? Well, start by getting your sleep pattern under control, then follow these tips for better sleep from the Mayo Clinic.

Need help rising earlier?  Here are some tips for you.

Here's a tip; open the blinds!  The morning light is a great way to help you get out of bed (or just turn on your light when your alarm goes off. I do this...Nick loves it. haha)

If you still aren't convinced that quality sleep can help you lose/maintain your weight, I encourage you to start a sleep journal and take note of your appetite and self-control on days you are tired and on days you are not.  You will eventually see a trend and notice that you are more likely to choose the cake on those days you are tired;

Eventually you will also notice that as your sleep schedule gets better, your weight will too.  So many factors are at play.  Increased hormone production (such as the hunger hormone, ghrelin) is just one of the many reasons why not getting enough or good quality sleep will impede your weight loss efforts.

Another reason to wake up early? Think about all the stuff you can get done!  What could you do during that time? Just imagine!  You could get a load of laundry done, cross off your workout for the day, or do what Nick does and just ease into the day with a little TV, internet fantasy sports, and a cup of coffee and oatmeal.  Whatever it is, you're stimulating your brain and keeping your sleep-cycle normal, and that's the key.

Get up, get out, and get some coffee.  Whatever it is...get up!

And if you are not even considering trying to lose weight, I think I should point out that it's not just about weight, it's about your health.  Case in point, this latest article about sleep indicates there might be a link between poor sleep routines/sleep quality and chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.  Why? Because sleep deprivation may actually be changing our genes! Check out this article from the Washington Post and you may finally realize just how important sleep can be (I mean, maybe one day they will find out sleep is the key for all chronic disease prevention!).

Oh wait, that's not all, this was recently post on the New York Times' Well Blog; Lost Sleep can (Immediately) Lead to Weight Gain!

QUESTION:  Do you sleep in a lot on the weekends? Have you ever thought about forcing yourself to wake up earlier, even on mornings you don't have to?  Have you ever noticed being hungrier on days you had poor sleep the night before? 

Thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd
NOTE: I love comments!  But, be sure to come back to read any replies to questions or comments, as they do not go directly to your e-mail.


  1. I use to sleep in till noon, but i force myself to wake up and look at the clock every weekend. I now wake up at 830 maybe 930 on weekends! Depends on what time i go to sleep!

  2. I definitely am more hungry if I don't get a good night sleep!

    The sleeping in thing makes sense to me. I wake up early every day, though I sleep usually an hour later on Saturday and Sunday. I have always been an early riser so I don't find this challenging. Eric would ideally sleep until 11 every day, especially Saturday and Sunday. He is a night person so he has trouble falling asleep early so he "makes up" for it on weekends, which I have told him you can't do. But, anyway, Eric works better when we figures these things out for himself haha than me telling him. He has been trying to wake up earlier on Sundays lately.... still not at a reasonable time haha, but at least it's an improvement :)

    1. I love that you said "Eric works better when he tries to figure things out on his own".....Nick too, and I think that's true with most men! I have to remind myself not to nag Nick to get out of bed on Sunday at 10!

  3. I can't sleep in for the life of me, it doesn't really help my body either. I like the mornings too much!

  4. I may sleep in on Sundays and that totally kills the rest of my week, but I can't sleep early either. I wake up early on Saturdays because I love the boot camp class I go to.

    Mornings also just rock!

  5. I sleep in some weekends until about 8-8:30, but if I go to bed 2-3 am I end up sleeping until 10 am. I am sure it is bad, but the more tired I am the worse my vertigo gets. In fact, sometimes it is the vertigo that signals to me I just am not getting enough sleep. It is hard to sleep in when you live in the land of the rising sun! No joke, my first few weeks here were in the summer and I woke up every day at 4:30 am. By 7 am the sun looked like it normally does at noon!

  6. This is such a great post! Good sleeping pattern does wonders. Would I be able to share this post? :)

  7. I get the whole idea of needing adequate sleep, but I disagree that we all need to be early risers. I get my best work/thinking/etc done at night. I would much rather wake up later every day and go through my day that way. I have so much more energy in the evenings than in the mornings. I just wish the rest of the world worked that way so I could wake up at 9 am or later every day :)

    1. I agree Marianne, and I added a NOTE about that in the top portion of the post. Most people who sleep in are also going to bed really late and not getting adequate sleep (At least that's what I seem to notice among my clients and friends). But you are right, if you wake up later and go to bed later, and get good quality sleep, that's completely fine!