Work Night Shifts? Why Sleep Is Vital for Your Weight Loss

Working the night shift is hard enough without the added stress of striving for weight loss. Many people have poor eating habits when working nights simply due to the strange hours that must be kept. You may wake up in time to eat dinner, which is technically breakfast time to your body, and then you may snack your way through the night to fight off fatigue. These eating habits can lead to weight problems, and if you have sleeping problems because of the night shift, it can be even harder to lose the extra pounds. Research now shows that sleep is a vital part of your weight loss program.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The average person needs approximately eight hours of sleep per night to properly rest the body and allow it to repair itself. Some people may feel rested after seven hours, while others need nine or ten hours to feel restored. If you work the night shift and are trying to sleep during the day, you may find it much more difficult to get the recommended eight hours of sleep.  Not only is your natural body rhythm thrown off, but you are trying to sleep through doorbells, lawnmowers and bright sunlight. All of these distractions can make it very difficult to get the rest you need. 

Ways Sleep Loss Affects Weight

Sleep loss can affect your weight in significant ways. First, it can increase your hunger because of the effect it has on the hormone cortisol, which plays a role in regulating appetite. If you are sleep deprived, you may continue to eat even when you are full, because of the changes in cortisol levels. This can lead to overeating and weight gain. Leptin and ghrelin are two other hormones that strike a connection between weight loss and sleep deprivation. Leptin levels are decrease when you don’t get enough sleep, causing a lack of satisfaction after eating. At the same time, ghrelin levels are increased, stimulating your appetite, and making you crave more food.

Additionally, your metabolism may slow down, causing an increase in the storage of fat. When you lose sleep, your body does not break down carbohydrates properly, causing blood sugar levels to increase. When the body has excess levels of blood sugar, a surge in insulin production occurs, causing the body to store more fat.

What You Can Do

To fight off the extra weight gain while working the night shift, and promote weight loss, the proper amount of sleep is a necessity. If you have trouble sleeping during the day, there are several steps you can take to help get the shut eye needed to keep your hormone levels where they need to be.

Cutting down on caffiene and sugary snacks several hours before you are due to go to sleep can improve the quality of your sleep. Also, unplug or turn off all of the phones in the house. Additionally, use a blackout shade when you sleep to prevent too much sunlight from streaming into the room. The darker the room, the better chance you have of tricking your body into believing it is night time.   

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  • Lisa

    I used to work nights for many years, and never got the full 8 hours of sleep, it was quite impossible. It can play havoc on your food intake and times you eat, but like most people on shifts, you adapt and conquer!

    Lisa
    http://www.weightlosstips-101.com

  • Diet

    Good job, thanks to share.

  • Gaby

    I started working a 4×4 rotating shift (4 days at work, 4 days off, switching from days to nights every 2 weeks) in March 2010 and have put on 10 lbs since then. I love my job, but hate the way I look now and try to loose the weight. I need a lot of sleep, and have a hard time to get motivated to go to the gym. I’m trying to change my eating habits, but I dont know where to start, since there is so much information out there…