Is there anything better in this world than waking up after a good night's sleep? You feel refreshed, energized, and ready to tackle whatever may come your way. We know these things and yet so many of us have great difficulty making enough time for sleep. Whether you know it or not, sleep is a vital component to both your health and your fitness goals. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night can impact both your eating habits and your fat storage. Sleep and eating When you don't get enough sleep, you feel sluggish, groggy and, more often than not, a little cranky. But it isn't just your mood and energy levels that are effected by poor rest, your fat cells also take a beating. Researchers at the University of Chicago analyzed what happened to the metabolism after 4 nights of sleep deprivation -- which, let's face it, is a typical work week for many of us. They found that after just 4 days, the body's ability to use insulin was compromised. Actually, insulin sensitivity dropped by 30%. When your body is producing insulin at normal levels, your fat cells are able to remove lipids and fatty acids from your blood, preventing them from getting stored in your body. When you become more insulin resistant, the fat remains in your blood stream and circulates through the body, triggering the production of more insulin. This excess insulin causes fat storage all over the body and around your organs, in particular. What's worse, lack of sleep makes a mess of your hunger hormones. Your hunger is primarily controlled by 2 hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin makes you feel full and satisfied while ghrelin stimulates your desire to eat. Lack of sleep throws these two out of balance. It decreases your production of leptin, which makes you feel as though you've got nothing in your stomach and increases your production of ghrelin which makes you feel ravenous! To complicate this even more, lack of sleep stimulates production of cortisol. This stress hormone, as you may know, is associated with fat storage, especially in the belly. Cortisol activates the reward centers in your brain that make you desire food. Couple this with your decrease in leptin and your increase in ghrelin and you've got a potential diet disaster. And one more thing: lack of sleep impairs the abilities of your frontal lobe which plays a key role in your ability to make decisions. It makes it far more difficult for you to make the right choice when it comes to food options (help keep yourself on track with the BodyRock Meal Plan), making you more susceptible to those heavy, processed carbs you've been trying so hard to avoid. Obviously, these are issues we'd all like to avoid. Don't tank your weight loss efforts by not getting enough rest! Here are a few things you can try to get a better sleep, starting tonight!