Struggling To Lose Weight? You Should Go Take A Nap

Losing weight is hard. You always seem to be having to do something -- cook at home more, exercise more, meditate more, etc.

But what if we told you that a lack of sleep might be behind the reason you can't seem to shed those stubborn kilos.

According to CQUniversity Researcher Dr Amy Reynolds -- who specialises in sleep -- not getting enough shut eye can be the main catalyst behind gaining weight and not being able to lose it.

"We have seen that when people in our sleep laboratory don't get enough sleep they will crave sugary foods -- and they crave it more times of the day when they wouldn’t normally eat," she told 10 daily.

The Less You Sleep The More You Eat

Yup, it's true and it's been scientifically proven.

In 2013 a study led by the University Of Colorado Boulder found that getting an insufficient amount of sleep (in this case just five hours per night) led participants to eat more and, in turn, gain weight.

The director of the study, Kenneth Wright, said that "when people get insufficient sleep, it leads them to eat more than they actually need." That's probably because staying awake longer will lead to us needing more calories for energy.

'Delayed Lifestyle'

That's the term coined by a new study from Colombia University which found that our habit of going to bed later and, in turn, eating later may wreak havoc on our heart health.

Researchers asked more than 12,000 to record their eating habits across two separate days. They found that those who ate around 30 percent or more of their daily calories after 6pm ended up having higher levels of fasting blood sugar (the sugar that's in the blood of someone who hasn't eaten in a while), insulin (the hormone that regulates our blood sugar), and blood pressure.

The study ended up concluding that while eating later isn't great for our bodies, the real danger here is the way our bodies struggle to cope when our internal clocks aren't synced to the environment around us. Meaning, when it's nighttime you need to be resting.

Hormone Imbalance

Doctor Reynolds said that a lack of sleep will "also disrupt other hormones in the body" specifically those relating to our appetite and stress.

According to the Eve Van Cauter, another sleep expert from the University of Chicago,  not sleeping enough will disrupt the two hormones which control our hunger -- leptin and ghrelin.

In an interview with USA Today, Cauter said that insufficient sleep will lead to increased levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin,  and decreased levels of the satiety/fullness hormone, leptin.

Doctor Reynolds also added that in her labs she saw a distinct correlation between those who didn't get enough sleep and their blood glucose levels.

"If we put people in a sleep lab for a week and give them a short period of sleep we noticed that their blood glucose levels spiked to those of someone who was a pre-diabetic," she said.

What Next?

So, we know a lack of sleep is bad, but how are we supposed to rectify it when our lives are literally a merry-go-round of activities?

According to a survey by Sealy, 77 percent of Australian's know they've got a problem when it comes to hitting the hay -- and while alarming, the data has given Dr. Reynolds some hope.

"It's a positive surprise because that says that people know the value of sleep," she said.

Doctor Reynolds offered these tips to help us drift off to the Land of Nod.

  • Be careful about having caffeine in the late afternoons because that will impact your sleep.
  • Change your attitude towards sleep -- we need to stop thinking as though we're weak because need more of it than others.
  • Stop cramming so much into your evenings.
  • When you get home start to switch off -- your mobile, your tablets and you iPads.
  • If all else fails visit your GP.

Feature Image: Getty