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Are you getting enough sleep? Sleep is not only vital to our mental health, but our physical health as well. Sleep is one of the most overlooked components of living a healthy lifestyle. Sleep affects our ability to lose weight, food cravings, and dictates the efficiency of our workouts.

The University of Pennsylvania discovered that getting less sleep can cause you to gain an average of 2 lbs. a week in comparison to someone who is getting a consistent 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Why is that? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, states that more than 35 percent of people are sleep deprived. The interesting side of this is that the statistic for obesity is near identical.

After four days of sleep deprivation, your body’s sensitivity to insulin drops by 30 percent. When your insulin is under functioning, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from your blood stream and prevent storage, which makes your insulin more resistant. Eventually this excess insulin ends up storing fat in tissues like your liver. This all results in gaining fat and potentially suffering from diseases like diabetes.

Sleep deprivation not only messes with your weight loss ability, but it also influences the hormones that dictate food cravings. The main two hormones that affect hunger are Cortisol and Ghrelin. When you do not get enough sleep, the body’s Cortisol levels rise triggering the desire to eat. In tandem, the Ghrelin levels will also rise forcing the brain to not be satisfied after a meal, influencing you to think that you need to eat more.

Weight gain and food cravings already sound like great reasons to start getting enough sleep, but another important factor that is affected by sleep deprivation is muscle growth. It is proven that your body cannot go through protein synthesis properly (which is your body’s ability to produce muscle) with an insufficient amount of sleep. Poor sleep also causes muscle loss and increases the odds of injury. Why put your body at risk?

Are you getting enough sleep? Maybe it’s time to take a look at your own lifestyle habits! If you want to achieve your health and fitness goals, make sure to take care of your body and get plenty of sleep!