August 14, 2009
Slim Down with Sleep? Not Just Wishful Thinking!
Maybe you’re looking to drop a few pounds to feel a little less jiggle when you wiggle, or perhaps you’re seeking a trimmer silhouette just for the health benefits (slimmer people have less risk of heart disease, diabetes and more). Whatever your reason, we’ve got one, almost unbelievable weight loss weapon we bet you have never even thought of – solid nights of good, old-fashioned sleep.
Truth be told, sleeping alone isn’t going to soften the blow of those extra servings of cheesecake (we were disappointed, too). But what it can do is help keep the possibility of you overeating in check in the first place.
When you skimp on snooze time, leptin – the hormone that reigns in hunger – plummets, while the appetite jump-starting hormone ghrelin gets kicked into high gear. One study, out of Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin, found that those who clocked fewer than 8 hours of sleep each night had more pronounced changes in these hormones. This imbalance can cause you to raid the pantry during your wake hours for quick energy, often in the form of high-carb, high-sugar foods — not exactly options that in any portion do wonders for your waistline. In fact, the same individuals also had more body fat than those who got adequate amounts of sleep. A larger study, conducted at Columbia University, even found that those who get fewer than 5 hours of sleep each night are at a 50% greater risk for obesity than those who sleep for 7 or 8.
But it doesn’t stop there. Insufficient sleep has been linked to increases in the stress hormone cortisol, which can also boost the munchies. And some experts even say that too little sleep can limit the amount of time your body has to allow growth hormone – a protein that’s part of your fat-burning process – to break down what you’ve eaten so that it doesn’t all end up on your hips.
Whether you’re looking to see a more pleasing number on the scale, or stay at the number you’ve worked too hard to reach, good sleep must be an essential part of your weight management plan. Commit to calling it a night early on, and make sure your sleeping quarters are as comfortable as they can be so you can drift into Dreamland with ease.
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