Sleep Your Weight Off
It sounds like a hoax, like all those other diet plans that say you can shed pounds without dieting or exercising. However, while you cannot lose weigh without dieting or exercising, it seems that sleep is an important factor in determining weight.
Sleep Your Weight Away
Study after study has shown evidence of a link between weight and time spent sleeping. People who are overweight tend to sleep, on average, 16 minutes less than normal weight people. Furthermore, in a 16 year study of almost 70,000 women, those who got less than 5 hours of sleep each night were a third more likely to gain 30 pounds.
Sleep loss may affect your weight in different ways. It will make you feel more tired and less likely to exercise. It also seems to affect how our bodies regulate appetite, making us eat more. Sleep deprivation can also change your metabolic rate, slowing the rate at which your body processes calories into energy.
Sleep, Hormones, and Weight
New research is showing a link between two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, and their effect on appetite, weight, and sleep. These two hormones work together to affect how hungry and full we feel. Leptin is produced in fat cells and tells your brain when you are full, while ghrelin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract and makes you feel hungry. Immediately, we can sense the potential effects here: one hormone makes us feel hungry and the other decides when we're full. If something is off balance, it could have serious consequences.
What About Sleep?
A lack of sleep affects each hormone differently. Sleep deprivation lowers levels of leptin, the hormone that signals your brain when you are full. If these levels are low, you won't feel as satisfied after eating and may continue to eat more than you need. A lack of sleep increases levels of ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite even more than normal. Therefore you're left feeling hungrier and less satiated.
Form Good Sleep Habits
Regardless of its link to weight, sleep is an essential part of life. We need sleep to recover from the day and to rebuild our immune systems. Make an effort to increase the amount of sleep you get each night. Try going to bed just half an hour earlier each night to start. Here are some other tips to help you sleep better:
- Use your bedroom for sleeping: Avoid watching TV, working or arguing in bed. Keep that area for sleeping, so your body associates it with rest.
- Skip caffeine and alcohol: Limit caffeine intake during the afternoon and evening hours and skip the nightcap. Alcohol may help you feel sleepy, but will also make you more likely to wake up halfway through the night to urinate.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise helps you lose weight and sleep as well - it does make you tired. Just don't do it right before bed.
- Clear your mind: If your thoughts are racing, keep a notebook by your bed to jot those thoughts down and get them out of your head.
- Atmosphere: Some people prefer sleeping in a cold room; others prefer a source of white noise like a window fan. Still others find gentle music relaxing.
Sleep is important regardless of your weight. Figure out how much sleep your body needs and make it a goal to hit that number.