Even if you are eating healthy and get sufficient exercise, chances are you may not be losing the weight you desire. The reason: insufficient sleep. Unfortunately, our lifestyles have become such that 24 hours in a day has become insufficient. Between work, family and social obligations, we cut corners on our sleep. Sleep deprivation is becoming an issue that has multiple poor effects on our health including staying fit and lean. Worse, not only are we sleeping less, but we are also getting poorer quality of sleep. And the consequences are showing up in our expanding waistlines.

Studies show that sleep deprivation increases your hunger hormone called ghrelin and decreases the hormone called leptin which is responsible to tell you when to stop eating. Lack of sleep increase your stress hormones and chronic sleep disorder puts you at risk for weight gain, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. It also results in fatigue and less physical activity. Although these are cumulative effects, even a single night of sleep deprivation can put your hormones out of whack. When you wake up sleep deprived you are usually hungry, cranky, wired, tired and generally out of balance.

It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep deprived or not getting quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly. Experts recommend that if you are getting 7 to 8 hours of good sleep, you are at low risk of weight gain. A good night’s sleep — 7 to 8 hours — can impact how you feel, think and your ability to make healthy food choices. Being well rested recharges you physically, mentally and emotionally. You’ll be less stressed, more alert and aware, and better able to cope with life’s curveballs including temptations like high calorie junk food and sweet cravings.

Do note that people who are fit and carry a healthy weight sleep better than overweight people and those carrying excessive belly fat. Going on a weight loss diet plan and supervised regular exercise routine are the only solution towards better health and improved sleep.

To get better sleep, here’s a list to help correct the issue:

  • Keep sleep times consistent. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Research shows that shifting your sleep times puts you at risk of a number of health concerns including raised insulin levels and body fat.
  • Cut out or cut down on caffeine and alcohol.
  • Create a bedtime ritual that is calming. Don’t fall asleep watching TV. Turn of electronic appliances, unwind and

    prepare your body to sleep. A few minutes of meditation always helps. Keep your bedroom noise free and comfortable.

  • Don’t treat your bed as a workspace, to eat, read or watch TV.
  • If you are a chronic poor sleeper, rule out medical conditions like food sensitivity, thyroid disorder, menopause, chronic fatigue syndrome, stress, depression and fibromyalgia.
  • Stop eating at least three hours before bed. Make healthy food choices and stay well hydrated through the day. Digestion raises body temperature and a heavy meal close to bedtime is a no-no.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise is proven to improve sleep quality. If you are serious about losing weight and sleeping better, make it a point to get at least 30 to 45 minutes of moderate to intensive exercise daily.

The author is a certified professional fitness instructor, founder and master trainer at Rage Fitness and a fitness columnist who specialises in mixed martial arts