Sleep and Weight Loss


We all know it's important to get a good nights rest.  We've been hearing it since we've been children but exactly how true is it?  The role of sleep in weight loss is crucial. 

According to studies published in The Journal of American Medical Association and The Lancet sleep loss may increase hunger and affect the body's metabolism.  This may make it more difficult to maintain or lose weight. 

Have you ever noticed how hungry you get when you're trying to stay awake?  Sleep loss has been shown to affect the secretion of cortisol, a hormone that regulates appetite.  As a result, individuals who lose sleep may continue to feel hungry despite have eaten well.

A lack of sleep also affects the levels of leptin and ghrelin.  Leptin is produced by your body's fat cells and is responsible for suppressing hunger.  Ghrelin is released by your stomach, and stimulates your appetite.  Lack of sleep lowers the levels of leptin in your blood and heightens the levels of ghrelin, which results in an increase of appetite.  The reverse is also true, getting enough sleep decreases hunger and with therefore help you lose weight.

During sleep, your pituitary gland secretes more growth hormones than during your waking hours.  Growth hormones stimulate cell regeneration, reproduction and growth.  These hormones are also known to aid you in building muscles.  This is why higher levels of growth hormones means a heightened metabolism.  With a higher metabolism, you burn energy much faster which leads to easier weight loss.

According to sleep researchers from the University of Colorado, sleep deprived participants actually burned an extra 111 calories a day.  Yet, they ended up gaining an average of two pounds by the end of the first week because they ate more.  Not only did those participants eat more but they overate carbohydrates.  Those who were sleep deprived ended up eating more calories during after-dinner snacking than in any other meal during the day.

If all that doesn't make you rethink your sleeping habits here is one more tidbit of information.

From a blog in the NY Times written by Tara Parker-Pope,

Last fall, The Annals of Internal Medicine reported on a study by University of Chicago researchers, who found that lack of sleep alters the biology of fat cells. In the small study — just seven healthy volunteers — the researchers tracked the changes that occurred when subjects moved from 8.5 hours of sleep to just 4.5 hours. After four nights of less sleep, their fat cells were less sensitive to insulin, a metabolic change associated with both diabetes and obesity.

“Metabolically, lack of sleep aged fat cells about 20 years,” said Matthew Brady, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and the senior author on the study.

“These subjects were in their low 20s but it’s as if they were now middle-aged in terms of their response. We were surprised how profound the effects were.”


I realize it's easy for me to say that we should all get those 7-9 hours of sleep but it's not always going to happen. 

Here are a few tips from

  •     Don't go to bed feeling hungry, but don't eat a big meal right before bedtime.
  •     Exercise regularly, but no sooner than three hours before bedtime.
  •     Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol in the late afternoon and evening.
  •     If you have trouble sleeping at night, don't nap during the day.
  •     Establish relaxing pre-sleep rituals, such as a warm bath or a few minutes of reading.
  •     Create a pleasant sleep environment. Make it as dark and quiet as possible.
  •     If you can't sleep, don't stay in bed fretting.  After 30 minutes, go to another room and  involve yourself in a relaxing activity until you feel sleepy.  

sources: WebMD
                 NY Times

posted @ Monday, April 20, 2015 8:00 AM


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