We all know that diet and exercise are crucial to losing weight. But there’s a third piece of the puzzle that is just as important — sleep.
Health brand Forza Supplements looked at the sleep habits of 1,000 people across the UK aged 18 to 65 who are trying to lose weight. According to Business Insider, 74 percent of the participants who slept for 7.5 to 8 hours each night “said that they didn’t struggle to stick to a diet or lose weight.”
Plus, people who got less sleep were more likely to snack between meals — specifically, 64 percent of people who slept less than seven hours a night reported snacking between meals, compared to 17 percent of their well-rested counterparts.
Previous research on sleep and weight loss have had similar findings. One study linked insufficient sleep with weight gain, and a study on obese adolescents related sleep deprivation to “lower responsiveness to weight-loss treatment.”
Dr. Michael Breus, clinical psychologist and both a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, explained the connection to WebMD: “It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly.”
Plus, good sleep is important when you are exercising or playing sports — and regular movement is a crucial part of successfully losing weight.
“When you look at the research, regular physical activity is important for high-quality sleep, and high-quality sleep is important for physical performance,” Cheri Mah, a sleep medicine researcher at Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco, told TIME Health.
So if you’re looking to lose weight, make sure you are scheduling your regular workouts around a healthy sleep schedule — depriving yourself of sleep in order to make it to the gym could hamper your efforts in the long run.
[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]
Featured image: VGstockstudio/Shutterstock
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