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Sleep and Weight Loss: How Sleep Affects Your Weight


Recent researches show that weight loss and weight gain are greatly affected by one thing we always neglect to do – sleep. Studies show that in the US alone, two thirds of the population say they do not sleep well for at least three nights in a week. 33% of adults confirm that they regularly get less than 6.5 hours of sleep and 63% is estimated to get less than 8 hours. The fact that some experts consider these figures as answers to the question of why Americans are becoming obese, many of us jump to what we now call as “the sleep diet”.

So how does sleep affect your weight?

  • SLEEP LOSS AFFECTS LEVELS OF LEPTIN AND GHRELIN. The relationship between sleep loss and weight gain can be primarily explained by activities of these two hormones. Leptin, a protein hormone, sends signal to your brain when you are full. As an appetite suppressant, leptin makes you more active and stops you from eating too much so you burn off more energy. Ghrelin, on the other hand, stimulates appetite. Sleep loss drives leptin down and causes ghrelin levels to rise – meaning you don’t feel full after you eat (because of ghrelin) and your appetite is stimulated (because of leptin) so you want more food.

  • SNACKING TENDENCIES ON SLEEPLESS NIGHTS CAN BE RISKY. Late night snacking is often inevitable. Television on prime time usually airs the most interesting shows so we tend to regularly stay late, make our way to our fridge and munch until we sleep. During these hours, we are inactive. What we do is just sit on the couch, lie on bed with our eyes, hands and teeth the only body parts moving. Since natural metabolism is at its slowest before bedtime, calories are accumulated and unburned, wasting all the efforts you have already put into the process of getting into shape.

Developing a Healthy Sleep Habit

Developing a healthy sleep routine, or sleep management, can help us battle nights of sleeplessness for our body to refresh and replenish and to make it responsive to our weight loss efforts. A good night sleep is as important as breathing, and should be given proper attention to help us achieve the weight we wish. Here are some tips.

  • EAT LIGHTER DINNER. So many of my clients realize that when they eliminate the heavy meat at dinner they sleep better. They do not toss and turn and also they feel less warm at night. Many have said that they end up needing the covers whereas in the past they never used them because they were so hot.

  • SET A REGULAR BEDTIME. Choose a time when you normally get tired and go to bed the same time every night. If you want to change your bedtime, adjust it in small increments like 15-20 minutes earlier or later each night.

  • AVOID CAFFEINE. Sources of caffeine include coffee, chocolates, diet drugs and some pain relievers. Caffeine keeps you awake and stimulated the whole day.

  • RE-INVENT YOUR ROOM. Control your room temperature and maintain a quiet environment as much as possible. If you feel sleepless, you can read a book, listen to a relaxing tape or light music. Of course, avoid too much night snacking.

  • EXERCISE IN THE MORNING. Aerobic exercises during daytime reduces stress hormones but doing it at night time is a no-no if you want to get enough sleep. Night-time exercises only makes us our body active all night, contributing to sleeplessness.

We don’t just always blame food or genetics if we are putting on the pounds, it may be because we lack the adequate sleep our body needs. Remember, sleep should be given high priority or else our weight loss efforts would just go down the drain.