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Want To Lose Weight? Sleep On It!

May 04, 2015 4 min read

I keep reading more and more about how much sleep affects your waistline. Being a mom of 2 girls - I don't get much sleep! And you know what? On the days where I am extra exhausted from lack of sleep, I CRAVE sweets and starchy carbs. These kinds of foods are quick sources of energy, but not so good if you are trying to lose weight or stay in shape. Believe it or not, not getting enough sleep at night can cause you to gain weight! Keep reading to find out why. Sleep always seems to be one of the first things that people are willing to forego, but it is far more important to our overall health than many of us think. According to a recent Gallup poll, 40% of Americans only sleep six hours or less, on average per night. According to doctors and scientists, sleep deprivation leads to a host of physical and mental issues, including mood disturbances, job performance issues and health problems. Unfortunately, our shrinking sleep habits are becoming a societal “norm” and are just widely accepted as a part of our busy lives. While the amount of sleep a person needs varies from person to person, the average is between seven and eight hours per night. Teens and young children need closer to nine hours of sleep.

So what happens when you do not get enough sleep?

Researchers have several theories on why lack of sleep is associated with excess weight.
  1. Exaggerated Hunger: Hormones that control hunger may actually be altered when we don't get enough sleep.
  2. More Time to Eat: The longer you're awake, the more time you have to eat.
  3. Less Healthy Eating Habits: People who don’t get enough sleep tend to eat more junk food, eat irregularly, and snack more than people that get enough sleep do.
Those all make a lot of sense, now don't they?

Sleep Deprivation and Nighttime Eating

A sleepy brain makes poor decisions, and different parts of the brain go into overdrive, according to Web MD. For example, when you're overly tired, your brain’s “pleasure center” takes over, causing you to crave junk foods and larger portions of them. The brain especially likes to tell you to eat more carbs when you're sleepy. Studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have made a correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain. In one study, participants were more likely to snack—especially on high carbohydrate snacks—when they were sleep deprived. Another study found that sleep deprived individuals tend to eat larger portions of food. So what's making people so hungry when they should be sleeping? Two hormones, Ghrelin and Leptin are the culprits as they are responsible for stimulating and repressing hunger. Researchers have found that Leptin levels decrease when we don’t get enough sleep, so the brain never “switches off” and you just keep eating.

How Sleeping Can Help You Lose Weight

Getting in a solid seven to eight hours of sleep can help you lose weight in several ways. It helps you cut down on late-night snacking. Late night snacking can cause you to gain as many as two pounds per week. You burn more calories. While you're sleeping, your body is performing vital functions such as cellular repair, digesting your dinner, pumping blood, and many other necessary functions Thus, a 150 pound person will burn about 95 calories per hour in their sleep. When you're in full-on, deep REM sleep (rapid eye movement), you're burning even more calories, since the brain is in the process of repair and monitoring bodily functions. It’s as if your brain has gone to the gym when you are in deep sleep mode. There's growth hormone production. Your pituitary gland is responsible for growth hormone production, and more of it is secreted when you're sleeping than while you're awake. Growth hormone has many functions and two them are muscle building and metabolism regulation. Get more sleep, produce more growth hormone. Produce more growth hormone,  increase your metabolism and lose weight faster and easier.

How to Get More Sleep

Waking up to the fact that you're probably not getting enough sleep? It can be tricky, but you can do a few things to help.
  • Shut everything down an hour before you hit the sack. Turn everything off (yes, including the computer), make yourself a soothing cup of chamomile tea or warm milk, and curl up with a good book. (Note - I cannot drink anything before bed or I'm awake peeing half the night!)
  • Create a schedule. Go to sleep and wake the same time, every day, including the weekends. This can be hard - if I can actually sleep in and not have to get up with the kids, I do it!
  • Avoid alcohol at least one hour before bedtime, and stop coffee, chocolate, soda and tea sooner than that (caffeine stays in your system for about six hours). Stay away from heavy dinners and especially spicy ones, as too much spice before bed can give your heartburn. Eating a big meal at night can also make you have very vivid dreams and disrupt your sleep cycle.
  • Turn the lights down low several hours before bed. Low lighting will kick-start your sleep hormone, melatonin.
There are many other complications unrelated to weight loss that also affects us from lack of sleep, so be sure to get your Z's! Do any of you experience cravings or night time snacking with poor sleep habits?
Reposted from: http://www.fitnessrepublic.com/inspiration/lifestyle/want-to-lose-weight-sleep-on-it.html#sthash.mvusyAMR.dpuf Feel free to follow me on my Facebook page or check out more from me on my blog at www.zuzanaorbodyrockaddict.blogspot.com

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