Hi Live Good Fitness and My Able Body.com readers. I wanted to welcome Sara Johnson as a guest Blogger to our sites and our community. I endorse what she says about Sleep Habits and how they affect hormones and how that relates to weight loss. Thanks Sarah!

How Sleep Habits Affect our Ability to Lose Weight

When you’re trying to lose weight, you work hard to eat well and get exercise throughout the day. But what you do at night can be just as important. Good sleep habits support your ability to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Without enough sleep, you’re at risk for conditions including obesity, weight gain, irritability, and compulsiveness. Your body won’t recover as efficiently from a workout, you can’t control cravings as well, and you’re just not performing at your best.

Sleep and Weight-Regulation Hormones

When you’re sleep deprived, weight-regulation hormones are thrown off track. Sleep deprivation increases production of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and reduces production of leptin (the satisfied hormone), which tells your brain that you may be hungrier than you really are and makes it more difficult to recognize when you’re full. This can lead to overeating and weight gain.

Sleep deprivation also affects insulin and cortisol. When you’re sleep deprived, your body doesn’t metabolize carbohydrates or glucose at full efficiency. This results in higher blood sugar levels and increased insulin production as well as reducing the body’s ability to metabolize and synthesize glucose for energy. It can lead to insulin resistance and make it more difficult for your body to process fat and sugars, which can result in weight gain. High cortisol levels can lead to heart disease or diabetes.

Sleep and Self Control

If you’re trying to stick to a diet or maintain a workout schedule, sleeping can help you with self control. When you’re sleep deprived, your self-control is challenged. You’re more likely to eat high-carb snacks and try late-night snacking. You’re more likely to consume more calories and carbohydrates and less water when you sleep less than five hours per night. And with less energy and increased fatigue, you’re less likely to exercise.

Sleep and Workout Recovery

Your body restores itself while you’re sleeping. That means if you’re working out to lose weight, you need time at night for your body to rebuild. While you’re sleeping, your body has higher levels of cell division and regeneration than while you’re awake.

During deep sleep, human growth hormones (HGH) are released. HGH supports tissue repair and muscle recovery. Although some weight loss and wellness regimens recommend HGH supplementation, you can promote a natural increase of HGH with exercise and deep sleep.

The bottom line: If you want to live a healthy lifestyle and lose weight, sleep is an essential part of achieving your goals. Give yourself enough time to sleep at night and create a healthy sleep environment that will help you make the most of every night for a more healthy day.

Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.

Tuck Sleep Foundation is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.