E = mc2
Anyone who knows anything will be able to rattle off Albert Einstein’s world-famous equation. But what most people fail to realise is that it’s actually a shortened version of a much longer equation. In its full form, the formula stands at:
E2 = (mc2)2 + (pc)2
I wish I knew enough maths and physics to explain its significance (alas, I graduated university with a humanities degree), but the point I’m trying to make is that even the most famous and popular statements are only remembered in their simplest formats. In a similar fashion, anyone who has stepped foot in a gym before will tell you that:
Weight Loss = Calories In < Calories Out
But what if we told you that the reality is a little bit more complex than “eat less and move more”? What if the reality was:
Weight Loss = (Calories In < Calories Out) + Good Sleep
It seems that most gym-goers tend to forget (or are wholly unaware of) the sleep factor and its importance in the journey of weight loss. But there’s good news for all the duvet dwellers! It turns out that those who sleep for less than seven hours a night are at risk of doing more damage than good to their weight loss plans.
In a study conducted by Withings, which surveyed 18,000 adults from all over the world, it was deduced that those who slept for an average of seven hours per night achieved 25% more weight loss than those who slept five or less hours. The sleep-deprived individuals were, on average, six pounds heavier than their well-rested counterparts.
Those who think they can work off their sleep deprivation during the weekends: think again! The study further showed a strong correlation between weight loss and regular sleeping habits; those who managed to maintain regular sleep schedules (even on Saturdays and Sundays) logged 1kg weight loss over the course of a year, in comparison to 0.6kg lost by those with erratic sleeping patterns. Overweight individuals, who slept at least an hour more on the weekends, were definite victims of this phenomenon.
And as the saying goes, the early bird certainly catches the worm, with the worm being successful weight loss in this case. Data revealed that three times more weight was lost by those who rose at the crack of dawn (before 7am), whilst 45% less weight was lost by night owls who routinely slept after 3am.
Essentially, it comes down to the fact that sleep is an integral factor in the arduous journey towards weight loss and healthy weight maintenance, as valuable and important as eating correctly and exercising regularly. If you’re training hard and eating right but still not seeing results, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your sleeping habits, and factor it into the weight loss equation. Lest we forget, much like the extra components in Einstein’s epic equation.
Eat. Sleep. Exercise. Repeat.