Sleep those pounds away
Research suggests that lying horizontally is one of the best ways to keep extra pounds at bay. It seems that going to bed early, taking regular naps and sleeping-in all lower the risk of obesity.
There is nothing like a good night’s sleep! This couldn’t be more true, as sleep seems to possess unsuspected virtues, like helping us to keep our nice figures. So, just how does sleep fight excess weight? You might want to read this before heading off to bed.
More sleep means less eating
American researchers have discovered a correlation between lack of sleep and body mass index (BMI): those getting only five hours’ sleep have an average BMI 3.6% higher than those who sleep eight hours a night. Therefore, sleep apparently diminishes risks of obesity.
Groups of American and Belgian researchers have conducted similar studies and reached the same conclusions. They not only noted the same impact of sleep deprivation on the risk of obesity, but they showed that lack of sleep significantly increases appetite, which could explain why people often have something to eat upon waking up at night.
The role of hormones, sleep and appetite
How can sleep prevent weight gain with the lowest calorie expenditure possible? The answer is hormones. Researchers from Stanford University have already identified links between an appetite-related hormone and a sleep disorder called narcolepsy.
Now scientists are differentiating between ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, and leptin, which is associated with appetite control and satiety. Lack of sleep is thought to have a direct impact on the secretion of these hormones, as it leads to a fall in leptin levels and an increase in ghrelin levels.
To put it simply, the feeling of hunger becomes poorly regulated and causes you to eat more. According to the researchers, waking up too early and going to bed too late two days in a row is enough to disrupt your natural balance.
Getting enough regular sleep
According to the scientists, the relationship between sleep and appetite-related hormones might be among the factors contributing to the obesity epidemic in Western countries. They believe that this phenomenon occurred simultaneously with a drop in average regular sleep duration. This remains a hypothesis, yet the harmful effects of sleep deprivation are well-documented.
Getting enough sleep matters if you want to keep your figure, however, this doesn’t mean you should stay in bed all day! Physical exercise is paramount to maintaining a good health and fighting excess weight.
Here then are a few simple common sense tips on how to live more healthily on a daily basis:
- Get at least seven to eight hours’ sleep a night
- Take a half hour’s brisk walk daily
- Watch less TV
- Take more time over meals
- Ann Intern Med, December 2004; vol. 141: p.846-850.
- PloS Medicine, December 2004; vol. 1
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