BOSTON (CBS) – It’s the advice everyone received from their mother: you need a good night’s sleep. When it comes to losing weight, it turns out she was right. New research is showing that sleep deprivation can impact your weight.
Melinda Farina was frustrated her attempts to lose weight kept failing. “I am eating perfectly. I am working out, but I am not losing weight.”
This led to multiple doctors appointments and blood work. “I completely thought it was hormonal,” said Farina.
A breakthrough finally came when her nutritionist asked her how much sleep she was getting. Farina admitted she often didn’t get to bed until 2 am and often woke up at 6 am to get to work related meetings. “I was kind of like in zombie mode.”
It turns out your body needs rest to shed pounds. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that sleep deprivation impacts the production of two hormones that control hunger: leptin and ghrelin.
Dr. Steven Feinsilver, a sleep and pulmonary specialist, explained that “when you are sleep deprived for just about any reason, both of those hormones change in a direction that should make your appetite go up.”
And up in a substantive way. Another study found people who are sleep deprived will eat an extra 300 calories a day. “If you eat another 300 calories a day long term you are going to gain weight, and it wouldn’t take long to substantially gain weight,” added Dr. Feinsilver.
Nutritionist Robin Kaiden has seen bad sleep habits derail a dieter’s best intentions. “When you’re sleep deprived, you tend to make bad decisions. You don’t think clearly, so you kind of grab what’s easy, what’s close. You’re too tired to think of something healthy. You’re too tired to cook.”
Once Farina started to get a regular 8 hours of sleep a night, she saw the pounds melt away. “Immediately in that first week, my clothes started loosening up, and the inches started coming off.”
Getting more sleep is paying other dividends as well. “My whole quality of life has changed. I feel so much better. I’m lot happier . . . you absolutely need to get your zzz’s.”