Trying to lose weight? Don't forget to get your Zzz's! When you first think about losing weight two things come to mind: eat healthy and exercise, but there’s significant research that shows the amount of sleep you get may be just as important. Proper sleep can help you avoid excess weight gain through hormone regulation and energy levels. Think of it like this: if you’re tired, you’re less likely to make the healthy choices (like taking the stairs or running on your treadmill) that lead to weight loss. If you don’t have the energy for a workout then you won’t workout and you won’t get the important exercise needed to lose weight.

You're more likely to succumb to unhealthy cravings when you're tired. Staying up late leads to unhealthy snacking. Late night snacking can delay your ability to fall asleep and can prevent you from getting the deep sleep you need to feel rested the next day. If you do get hungry at night eat something with protein and fiber like veggies and hummus, almonds, Greek yogurt or cheese. These snacks will help curb hunger and cravings with minimal interruptions to your ability to fall asleep.

Sleep quality is directly linked to your mood. Poor sleep can cause irritability and stress, while getting a good night’s rest can enhance your wellbeing. Stress can lead to overeating and depression while a positive mood can help you feel motivated to make healthier choices like a stroll in the park or a feel-good healthy snack.
Hormones are directly affected by sleep. Poor sleep quality negatively impacts hormonal rhythms and metabolism and is associated with obesity, insulin insensitivity, diabetes, hormonal imbalance, and appetite dysregulation. When you get enough sleep you are giving your body the energy it needs to regulate hormones and metabolism, leading to increased health.

How much sleep should you get? The National Sleep Foundation recommendations for nightly sleep are broken down into nine age groups:

 Age Range  Recommended Hours of Sleep
 0-3 months old  14-17 hours
 4-11 months old  12-15 hours
 1-2 years old  11-14 hours
 3-5 years old  10-13 hours
 6-13 years old  9-11 hours
 14-17 years old  8-10 hours
 18-25 years old  7-9 hours
 26-64 years old  7-9 hours
 65 or more years old  7-8 hours

(Table Source)

While the above guidelines are a recommended range, the National Sleep Foundation also notes that sleeping an hour more or less than the general range may be acceptable based on a person’s circumstances and the actual amount of sleep may vary from person to person based on your overall health, activities and patterns.

The bottom line: getting enough sleep for your personal needs is an integral part of living a healthy lifestyle. Get your Zzz’s and get the energy you need to maintain a healthy weight through activity, metabolism and mood.