Sleep It Off! The Weight, that is.

16 May

It’s getting warmer outside and that means people are starting to feel the looming pressures of summer. If you’re worried about showing your skin, don’t run for cover… run for the covers.

Research shows that people who sleep an average of 7-9 hours a night actually weigh less than people who are sleep deprived. Receiving less than 6 hours of sleep a night can lead to increased hunger and appetite which can affect weight.

According to Susan Zafarlotfi, PhD and clinical director of the Institute for Sleep and Weight Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, “When you have sleep deprivation and are running low on energy, you automatically go for a bag of potato chips or other comfort foods.”

There are many reasons why we may eat more when we’re tired. One reason is because of our reduced energy. The more tired we are, the less likely we are to work-out. And if we aren’t working-out or sleeping, well then, we might just be eating.

Another shining reason is great marketing. Think about it: there are hundreds of companies in the food industry built on servicing the chronically sleep deprived! A tiring list of energy drinks, protein bars, chocolate and even chewing gum comes to mind. If we just simply allotted enough time for sleep in our schedules, we wouldn’t have to consume these unnecessary calories in the first place.

However, studies indicate that the main reason we eat more when we’re tired is deeper than just good advertising… the biggest culprit is our hormones.

Ghrelin and Leptin are two hormones that are major influences on energy balance. They work together to tell us when we’re hungry and when we are satisified. Ghrelin is a fast acting hormone that tells you when to eat, while Leptin mediates your energy balance and tells you when to stop. Unfortunately, when you’re sleep deprived, not only is your metabolism slower, but you produce more Ghrelin and less Leptin which makes you feel hungrier and can lead to weight gain.

Now don’t get too excited. If you are already sleeping the recommended 7-9 hours a night, sleeping an extra hour won’t help you lose ten pounds. But if you are chronically sleep deprived and add more sleep-time to your schedule, there is a good chance you may lose some weight.

It’s important to continue to eat right and get your heart-rate up, but never overlook your sleep pattern! It could be the extra umph needed to being more healthy and feeling better about yourself.

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One Response to “Sleep It Off! The Weight, that is.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. New Year’s Resolution #1 « - January 21, 2013

    […] Too little sleep leads to poorer eating choices and therefore weight gain! […]

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