Losing weight while you sleep might sound like a dream come true for dieters who work out and count calories but still struggle with stubborn pounds. Research studies published in the “Annals of Internal Medicine” and the “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism” indicate that the amount of sleep you get affects your appetite and your body mass index, or BMI. However, for many people today, getting enough good sleep poses as much of a challenge as finding the time to exercise. Both sleep and exercise in essential for a healthy body.
Back in the day people slept for an average of 9 hours per night in 1910 but now average is only 6-7 hours per night. The cumulative total of lost sleep is more than 700 hours a year, a hefty “sleep debt.” The difference is showing up in peoples waistlines, according to “Sleep,” with two-thirds of Americans today are overweight and half of them obese, as of 2010.
When you get a good night’s sleep–at least 8 hours–your body produces the hormone leptin, which regulates your appetite. With enough leptin, you will feel full and satisfied after a meal. Adequate rest also regulates the hormone ghrelin, which increases appetite. Skimping on sleep reverses these positive effects, with a double whammy of less leptin and more ghrelin, so you feel less satisfied after eating and eat more food more often. You will crave more sweets and overeat when you get less sleep.
What You Feel
Insufficient slumber also leaves energy levels sagging, meaning you’re more likely to skip your workout and reach for a quick boost from sweet or starchy foods–or, worse, a beverage laden with high-fructose corn syrup. A study reported in the Dec. 7, 2004, issue of the “Annals of Internal Medicine” found a 33 percent increase in cravings for calorie-dense foods with high carbohydrate contents after just one night of restricted sleep. These foods give you instant energy but cause a spike and dive in your blood glucose levels that sends you back to the snack machine for more junk food.
What You Need
The National Sleep Foundation reports that fewer than 7 hours of sleep each night is associated with increased risk for obesity, diabetes and additional health problems in numerous clinical studies. However, logging more than 9 hours of sleep per night might not be good, either, but research has yet to prove that excessive sleep is a causative factor. With people’s busy lifestyles, though, getting too much sleep usually isn’t a problem.
Hitting the Sack
If you want to lose weight by sleeping more, set a regular bedtime, and wind down by dimming lights, avoiding alcoholic beverages, turning off the television and avoiding controversial or emotional topics of conversation. A bedroom conducive to good sleep is quiet, dark and cool, with a comfortable bed mattress. White-noise machines or fans might help prevent interruptions of sleep. It will take dedication and some time to get in a regular routine but once you do, you will be fit in no time.
Sweet dreams! XOXO