Sleeping In Could Be Better For You Than Going To The Gym

by Jerriann Sullivan
Image via Getty Images/ Burak Karademir

Lack of sleep linked to higher body fat percentage

Good news, sleepyheads. You can skip the gym and stay in bed on your quest for a healthier lifestyle. If you have to choose between hitting the gym and getting a full night of sleep, doctors agree you should opt for the shut-eye. Hallelujah, am I right? While exercising had loads of benefits, forsaking sleep for it will only hurt your efforts to get healthy.

There are several potential downsides to choosing a workout over enough sleep. One of the worst being a higher body fat percentage. “Sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night is linked to higher percent body fat,” Dr. Guy Meadows told Cosmopolitan UK. “Research suggests that people who average 6 hours per night are 27% more likely to be overweight.” And that percentage increases as folks sleep even fewer hours. “Those who average 5 hours per night are 73% more likely to be overweight,” the doctor said.

Plus, a lack of sleep can increase the fat around your stomach, which is dangerous to have and hard to lose. Nutritionist Lily Soutter explained: “High cortisol can signal for fat to be stored around the middle.” A lack of sleep can cause that spike in cortisol. “Scientists have analyzed levels of the stress hormone cortisol in sleep-deprived subjects. They found elevated levels of cortisol after a sleepless night, which was especially high between the hours of 4-9pm,” Soutter shared.

A lack of zzz’s messes with your hormones as well, which you guessed it, can also make your desire to stay healthy harder. “[The hormone] Ghrelin regulates our appetite and so how hungry we feel, whereas Leptin regulates the feeling of fullness, the cue to stop eating,” Meadows reported. “Research demonstrates that after a poor night of sleep Ghrelin levels increase and Leptin levels decrease, meaning we feeling more hungry and yet less full, hence why we tend to eat more.”

So that’s why I can eat half a pizza for lunch when I’m exhausted.

The doctor also noted that when we don’t sleep well, we want to eat more foods that are higher in calories as opposed to when we’re well rested. Hello, middle-of-the-night insomnia cravings for cheese fries. “Scientists from Uppsala University in Sweden demonstrated that sleep-deprived individuals select foods that are on average 9% higher in calories than when in a rested state,” he shared. Plus, when you do work out your body desperately needs sleep to repair itself. “During sleep, muscle tissue repairs and new cells are regenerated, therefore sleep deprivation is the enemy of building that all-important fat-burning muscle mass,” Soutter said.

So if you want to get or stay healthy, it’s best to start in the bedroom with your bed and pillow then conquer the gym when you’re mid REM cycle.