The Sleep-Weight Connection
May 9th, 2011
If your diet isn't going as well as you had hoped, the problem may not be your food choices or exercise habits. It may be your sleeping habits. Sleep loss may hamper even your best attempts to lose weight, according to new research.
The current 24/7 society where people are eternally connected and sleep loss is considered a badge of honor may play a role in the obesity epidemic, researchers say.
"Sleep loss can prevent the loss of fat and make the body stingier when it comes to using fat as a fuel," explains Plamen Penev, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago.
An essential component to a healthy body and mind
Sleep not only rewards and rejuvenates you after a long day; it is an essential Habit of Health. Sleep helps restore the function of your body's organs, stabilizes balance, and refreshes the part of your brain that governs mood and behavior, as well as the circuitry you need for functioning at work and at play.
In one study conducted by Columbia University Professors Steven Heymsfield and James Gangswisch, Ph.D., people who slept five hours per night were 73% more likely to become obese than those getting seven to nine nightly hours of sleep.
If you chronically feel tired or irritable, find it hard to focus on work and other tasks, or depend on caffeine to function, you may be one of the 50 to 70 million people in the United States who are suffering from an accumulation of lost sleep.
Chronic sleep loss can leave you at risk for :
- reduced productivity and performance
- poor concentration
- psychological stress
- depression and hostility
- a weakened immune system
- a higher risk of heart disease due to increased inflammation and other factors.
Inadequate sleep—less than seven hours a night—can also contribute to weight gain.
When you're sleep-deprived, your body secretes more ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite, and less leptin, a substance that signals you to stop eating when you're full.
Sleep loss can also result in a deficit of the feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin, causing an increased hunger for sugary, calorie-laden foods.
Along with getting an adequate amount of sleep, having healthy sleep habits are also important:
- Don't eat for four hours before bed, because sleeping slows your metabolism.
- Don't drink any caffeine after 2:30 p.m.
- Use the bedroom only for sex and sleeping
- Exercise is good for weight loss and better sleep - just don't do it right before bed because it may keep you up at night
Even though you can't substitute getting more sleep for less diet and exercise, but for any given effort, you will get more bang for your buck by being well rested.
(From the articles, "Healthy Sleep", and "Sleep Loss Hampers Weight Loss Efforts")