Ways Sleep Can Help You Get Slim
The following story is excerpted from TIMEs special edition, The Science of Sleep, which is.
When you want to slim down, the plan probably looks a bit like this: Step one, toss out the junk food step two, pull out the running shoes and step three, renew that gym membership . But a growing body of evidence suggests that getting a good nights sleep should be onor at least nearthe top of the list.
Few experts would disagree with the idea that weve become a nation in need of a pick-me-up. We stay up too late, we wake up too early and, increasingly, were overweight. While theres plenty of data showing that poor sleep can lead to weight gain and possibly even obesity, some new research also shows that the opposite may also be true: that getting the right amount of good quality sleep may actually help you shed a few pounds.
Getting a full night of sleep is one of the most under-appreciated factors contributing to healthy weight maintenance, says Matthew Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies the effect of sleep on weight.
Like all weight-loss strategies, sleep is not a quick fix, but consistently clocking a quality nights sleep could be the secret sauce for your weight-loss plan. So keep the following lessons in mind when optimizing your sleep schedule for a more favorable number on the scale. Heres why.
Understanding The Reasons For Weight Gain
The study participants did not identify the specific factors that contribute to weight gain in women who had less sleep.
“We don’t have an answer from this study about why reduced sleep causes weight gain, but there are some possibilities that deserve further study,” Patel says. “Sleeping less may affect changes in a person’s basal metabolic rate . Another contributor to weight regulation that has recently been discovered is called non-exercise associated thermogenesis It may be that if you sleep less, you move around less, too, and therefore burn up fewer calories.”
Another important factor to consider is the impact of sleep on cortisol levels. Insufficient sleep can cause the release of additional cortisolthe stress hormoneand can stimulate hunger.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average woman gets only six and a half hours of sleep per night. Chronic sleep deprivation can have a variety of effects on metabolism and overall health.
- Interferes with the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates and causes high blood levels of glucose, which leads to higher insulin levels and greater body-fat storage.
- Drives down leptin levels, which causes the body to crave carbohydrates.
- Reduces levels of growth hormone–a protein that helps regulate the body’s proportions of fat and muscle.
- Can lead to insulin resistance and contribute to increased risk of diabetes
- Can increase blood pressure
- Can increase the risk of heart disease
How Much Sleep You Need A Night To Lose Weight
Remember when we said sleep was integral to losing weight? According to Dr. Sultana, you should get seven to nine hours of sleep each night if you’re trying to lose weight. This will help you avoid fatigue and daytime sleepiness, which “results in the inability to exercise and a lack of motivation,” Dr. Sultana explained. You should also try to get those seven to nine hours in at night, as sleeping throughout the day “can have a disruption in normal circadian rhythm, which affects body hormone release,” Dr. Sultana said.
To improve the quality of your sleep, create a bedtime routine and stick to it, adjust your room temperature to about 68 or 69 degrees Fahrenheit, avoid caffeine after 10 a.m., avoid fatty foods and alcohol, and eliminate screen time in bed. For more tips on how to improve your sleep, check out this list of foods that may be causing sleep problems and the list of foods that will help you sleep better at night.
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Weight And Sleep Research
When it comes to weight loss, most people think that diet and exercise are the most important areas to focus on, but a growing body of research is showing there is a sleep/weight connection. Catching the late show or staying up to answer emails might be just as detrimental to your waistline as that extra glass of wine or serving of macaroni and cheese. Heres what the science says:
People who stay up late also have additional time to eat and tend to snack more during those extra waking hours. Plus, sleep deprivation decreases the number of calories you burn each day. When youre tired, you lack the motivation to go to the gym and are more apt to sit on the couch than take a walk.
How Many Hours Of Sleep Do I Need
A good rule of thumb is to receive between six to eight hours of sleep per night. Everyone has at least one poor night of sleep, just make sure it isnt followed up with a few more sleepless nights or you will increase your chances not to lose weight. It might not seem like much, but it could make all the difference in your weight loss goals. Conclusion, get your sleep because it is one of the best ways to lose weight!
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How To Get The Right Amount
The following chart can help a person figure out when they need to be going to bed to get 8 hours of sleep a night.The NSF report that, on average, people take 1020 minutes to fall asleep. The calculations below assume that a person needs 15 minutes, but if someone tends to take longer, they should adjust their bedtime accordingly.
To be properly rested, the body must go through several sleep cycles per night, including rapid eye movement sleep and non-REM sleep.
The stages of sleep include:
- Stage 1 non-REM: This lasts for only a few minutes. Breathing, heart rate, and brain waves begin to slow.
- Stage 2 non-REM: This stage occurs before the body enters deep sleep. The muscles relax even more, and body temperature drops.
- Stage 3 non-REM: A person needs to reach this stage of deep sleep to feel rested, and it lasts longer in the first half of the night. Breathing and heart rate slow to their lowest levels.
- REM sleep: Within 90 minutes of falling asleep, a person enters REM sleep. The brain becomes more active, the most dreaming occurs, and the arms and legs become temporarily paralyzed.
If the body does not go through these stages several times a night, the person may wake feeling fatigued and unfocused.
Another study found that nurses who slept 5 hours or fewer were more likely to have obesity than those who slept 7 hours on average.
A possible reason for the association is that being tired may change the brain in a way that leads to excess eating.
Sleeping More To Promote Weight Loss
A regular sleep schedule can contribute to weight loss. While sleeping more than an average of 6.5 hours per night may have beneficial effects on weight, sleeping over 8.5 hours per night has been shown to contribute negatively to weight. Getting adequate sleep may also reduce snacking that occurs throughout the course of the day due to feeling lethargic.
According to a recent study at Brigham Young University, a regular sleep schedule can make an almost immediate difference on the body’s ability to metabolize fat cells. In this specific study design, 300 college aged women were followed for a week and given an activity tracker which not only monitored movements, but also sleep patterns. The study also found that participants with lower BMI had higher quality of sleep, while those with higher BMI’s had lower quality of sleep. But was the reverse relationship also true?
As shown in fMRI studies, the human brain seems to react to sleep deprivation with a hyper-limbic response by the amygdala when facing negative stimuli. Also, the sleep deprivation group in this study showed weakened top-down prefrontal control. These results might implicate that sleep deprived people could do non-optimal decision making or react in irrational ways to emotional stimuli. Prefrontal cortex is associated with cognitive decision-making and further might influence healthy food choices in order to lose weight.
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It Can Help You Feel Fuller Longer
Getting a good nights rest not only helps you fight the urge to reach for a bag of chips, but it also keeps your hunger pangs in check. Take a study of 1,024 volunteers that showed that when people didnt get enough sleep, their hormone levels became unbalanced. Their levels of the hormone leptin, which is responsible for feeling full, dropped, and the levels of the appetite- inducing hormone ghrelin went up. Researchers think sleep helps our bodies keep those hunger hormones in line, making sure we feel hungry only when we should.
Adverse Effects Of Sleep On Weight Loss
Most people know that sleep is vital to adequate functioning. However, many do not realize that poor sleep can lead to weight problems, including weight gain and dietary stagnation.
Therefore, when focusing on weight loss, it is crucial to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep recommended by most sleep professionals. With the appropriate amount of sleep, your body will function the way into is designed to, and your brain will receive the break it needs to process and enforce natural order.
Poor sleep can lead to poorer impulse control. Additionally, an unbalanced sleep schedule can lead to biological changes, leading to a metabolism slow down.
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Poor Sleep Quality And Excessive Daytime Sleepiness In The Absence Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Severe obesity appears to be associated with marked sleep disturbances, even in individuals who do not have OSA . Such sleep disturbances may equally predispose severely obese individuals to accumulate a sleep debt and may contribute to the dysregulation of appetite, limit the drive for physical activity, and further compromise weight maintenance.
Cross-sectional studies examining self-reported sleep quality have generally found that worse sleep quality is associated with higher BMI , but the longitudinal studies have been scarce and the results inconsistent . A more recent cross-sectional analysis in 400 women participants in the Sleep and Health in Women Study showed that not only sleep duration but also sleep quality, as determined by sleep efficiency and sleep architecture were inversely related to waist circumference, after adjusting for age, level of physical activity, smoking status, alcohol consumption and AHI . Such associations were stronger in young women , suggesting that in older age the relationship between sleep quality and obesity may be less robust. The relationship between less time spent in SWS and central obesity could be mediated by a decrease in growth hormone level, which is secreted during SWS. Growth hormone deficiency is associated with visceral obesity, which can be reversed by growth hormone replacement . Furthermore, a reduced amount of SWS leads to elevated cortisol levels, which favor central obesity .
Tips For A Better Nights Sleep
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May Help You Make Better Food Choices
Getting a full nights sleep may help you make healthier food choices.
Lack of sleep alters the way your brain works and can affect decision making. This may make it harder to make healthy food choices and resist tempting foods .
In addition, it appears that the reward centers of the brain are more stimulated by food when you are sleep deprived .
For example, one study found that sleep deprived participants had greater reward-related brain responses after viewing images of high calorie foods. Interestingly, they were also more likely to pay more for food than those who had adequate sleep .
Therefore, after a night of poor sleep, not only is that bowl of ice cream more rewarding, but youll likely have a harder time practicing self-control.
Another study showed that sleep deprivation led to increased smell sensitivity to high calorie foods and greater consumption .
Furthermore, lack of sleep may lead to poorer food choices, such as a higher intake of foods high in calories, sugar, and fat, to compensate for feeling a lack of energy .
Poor sleep can decrease your self-control and decision making abilities, as well as increase your brains reaction to food. Poor sleep has also been linked to an increased intake of foods high in calories, fats, and sugar.
How Many Hours Of Sleep Do You Really Need
How many hours of sleep do you get every night? 5? 6? 7? How many pounds do you want to lose? 5? 15? 50?
Guess what? These two numbers go hand in hand.
So many of my clients are terrible sleepers. They cant fall asleep because their minds are racing or they fall asleep, but cant stay asleep. Or they wake to use the bathroom and then wander into the kitchen at 3AM. Or they sleep OK, but wake exhausted. And they eventually end up in my office, asking for diet plans and how to lose weight. This is yet another example where I preach, Its not just about the food!
Sleep deep is a Nutritious Life pillar because how many hours of sleep you get affects your wellness and waistline as much as the healthy foods you eat, the exercise you practice and the stress you manage does.
See, sleep deprivation messes up the hormones that regulate hunger, causing an increase in appetite and specific cravings for calorie-dense, high-carbohydrate foods. So after a long night, there is indeed a reason you are reaching for the bagel and cream cheese at 7am instead of your normal healthy breakfast of hard boiled eggs and berries.
Now keep in mind this happened after just 2 nights of sleep deprivationjust imagine what happens after weeks and weeks of missing sleep! No wonder your pants are tight, right?!
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Can You Lose Weight While Sleeping
Unfortunately, sleep alone won’t lead to significant weight loss
But proper sleep can help you avoid excess weight gain
Less sleep can lead to hormonal imbalance and feelings of hunger
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The rumor: You can drop pounds by catching Zs
The not-so-secret way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more, right? Well, according to some, sleeping thats right, catching more Zs can help you shed pounds. So, should you swear off the gym in favor of more time snoozing under the sheets?
You might think that the more hours youre awake, the more calories youre burning, so you should be losing more weight. But youd be wrong.
In fact, people who dont sleep enough at night risk gaining extra pounds, not losing them, according to John M. Jakicic, director of the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh.
I think poor sleep is a contributing factor to weight gain, says Jakicic. When you have poor sleep or lack of sleep, youre setting a whole cascade of events in motion hormonally that could set you up for weight gain.
Less sleep = Less energy
Sleep can curb hunger
Sleep Duration And Obesity Risk: Epidemological Evidence
Sleep âis a restorative process of the brain, by the brain, and for the brainâ , but it is now clear that sleep is important for health of the entire body. The decrease in sleep duration and increase in sleep complaints in modern society raise concerns for a negative impact of chronic sleep disturbances on health in general, not only mental health.
Behavioral sleep curtailment is becoming endemic in modern times. Ours is a 24-h society with more evening and night-time work and leisure activities, which all lead to a sacrifice of hours available for sleep. This has had a major impact on sleep time, duration of dark exposure, and overall organization of circadian rhythms through the exposure to artificial light after sunset and often before sunrise, resulting in later bedtimes, reduced total sleep time, and the opportunity to be active and ingest food during the natural night.
Feeding represents a major synchronizer of peripheral circadian clocks, which have been found in virtually all tissues. Delayed feeding due to prolonged night-time wakefulness leads to desynchrony between central circadian and peripheral clocks .
Indeed circadian desynchrony as it occurs in shift workers is associated with cardiometabolic alterations and increased risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease . On the basis of the link between circa-dian desynchrony and obesity and metabolic disorders, obesity could represent a âchronobiological diseaseâ .
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