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Sleep - how does it affect weight loss?

Sleep – we all need it, but sometimes we are all so busy that we start burning the midnight oil and don’t get enough!

But how does that affect our health?

Well for one, according to the research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine sleeping less than seven hours per night can reduce and/or undo the benefits of dieting. SAY WHAT!!!!!!

Hmmmmm, let me think about this...........

I suppose it all starts out innocently enough. When you are sleep deprived and running on low energy, you automatically go for a bag of potato chips, chocolate or other comfort foods. Did I mention chocolate?

The immediate result? You get a small burst of energy that helps you overcome that sleepiness for a little bit.

The mid-term result? You crash again in an hour or two and need another pic-me-up. Hmmmm more chocolate maybe .....

The ultimate result? Unwanted pounds as poor food choices coupled with lack of exercise set the stage for weight gain and further sleep loss.


Have you heard about people talking about the “sleep diet”, or losing weight whilst you sleep in magazines or diet books.

I did and wanted to find out if that was true - I mean if I could sleep the weight off why wouldn't I try it! So I did some research, and this is what I found:

From Michael Breus, PhD, author of Sleep Doctors Diet and Beauty Sleep

“It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly,” explains Michael Breus, PhD, clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Ariz.


So how exactly does lack of sleep affect our ability to lose weight?

Breus, explains that it has to do with our nightly hormones:

The two hormones that are key in this process are ghrelin and leptin. “Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin,” Breus says. “Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.”

Hmmmmm so let me see if I have this:

More ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain.

WOW, so it is true about how sleep is so important in helping you lose weight!


But how much sleep do I really need?

I mean lets face it, as a mother there are only so many hours in a day, and those hours when the kids are finally asleep are like gold.

I have seen research that says 7 hours, I know I would be a walking zombie if I got less than 7 hours! Actually truth be told I feel like 7 hours isn't enough ..... so what is the right number?

So back to Breus to see what he suggests:

"there is still quite a bit of mystery to sleep and everybody's sleep need is individualized and will change over the course of time." The key is to find out how much sleep you need to function.

Breus suggests this test to see how much sleep you need:

If you need an alarm clock to wake, try going to sleep 15 minutes earlier. Do you still need an alarm clock? If you do, push your bedtime up another 15 minutes, he says. Do this until you no longer need an alarm to wake up. This exercise should give you a pretty good idea about the amount of sleep you need per night.

Interesting ..... I wonder if a toddler counts as an alarm clock .....


But what if you just can’t fall asleep at night?

What can you do to help yourself get those oh so important 7+ hours of sleep?

Below are some tips for getting a better nights sleep

  • Avoid any caffeine in the afternoon

  • Drinking caffeine in the afternoon will keep you in the lighter stages of sleep -- which are associated with poor sleep -- at night

  • Exercise also helps improve sleep quality.

  • How soon before bed should you exercise? It depends -- everyone is different. It’s more important that you exercise than it is when you exercise.

  • Watch what you eat before bedtime. “Pizza and beer before bedtime is not a good idea,” says Breus. “Neither is eating a big meal close to bedtime.”

  • Heavy, rich meals before bed can also increase risk of heartburn, which will certainly keep you up all night.

  • Support your body's natural rhythms

  • Getting in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, is one of the most important strategies for achieving good sleep. If you keep a regular sleep schedule—going to bed and getting up at the same time each day—you will feel much more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times. This holds true even if you alter your sleep schedule by only an hour or two. Consistency is vitally important.

  • Make sure you wind down and clear your head before bed

  • Do you find yourself unable to sleep or waking up night after night? Residual stress, worry, and anger from your day can make it very difficult to sleep well. When you wake up or can’t get to sleep, take note of what seems to be the recurring theme. That will help you figure out what you need to do to get your stress and anger under control during the day.

  • Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex

  • If you associate your bed with events like work or errands, it will be harder to wind down at night. Use your bed only for sleep and sex. That way, when you go to bed, your body gets a powerful cue: it’s time to either sleep or be romantic.


I hope you found this interesting, if you have any other tips for sleeping please comment them below.

And if this article helped, please share it with your friends and let it help them too!

Take care, because you deserve it! Katrina



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