Does Weight Loss Need Good Sleep?
To lose weight, three simple rules need to be followed: eat a well-balanced, low-fat diet; exercise regularly; and get proper rest. While the first two rules are obvious to everyone, few people pay attention to the third-sleep. Recent research has shed light on why it's important to get enough sleep if one wants to lose weight. A sleep researcher, Dr. Eve Van Cauter, of the University of Chicago, published an article in the October 23rd, 1999, issue of the British medical journal Lancet. Dr. Van Cauter's team studied the effects of varied amounts of sleep in 11 healthy men, ages 18 to 27. The men spent eight hours in bed during the first three nights, four hours per night for the next six nights, and twelve hours per night for the remaining seven nights. Just one week of sleep deprivation revealed that the production of the growth hormone that helps control the body's proportion of muscle to fat was reduced. This hormone is secreted mostly during the first round of deep, slow-wave sleep (to a greater extent in men than in women). This hormone is extremely important in controlling body weight. When the body produces less of this hormone, there is a tendency for the body to store fat. Depriving ourselves of proper sleep limits the production of this hormone. Also, as we age, the time we spend in deep sleep lessens, making it even more imperative for us to get the sleep we need.
Another hormone that is affected by the amount and quality of sleep we get is leptin. This hormone plays a large part in our ability to control how much we eat. Leptin is the hormone that gives our body the signal that we've eaten enough; it's what tells us that we feel "full." Dr. Van Cauter's study revealed that sleep deprivation causes leptin levels to be reduced. This causes our bodies to crave carbohydrates even though we've consumed enough calories. Unless we can burn these excess carbohydates, they will be converted to body fat.
As a result of sleep deprivation, we make the task of controlling our weight even more difficult-we begin our day fatigued. In his book The Promise of Sleep, Dr. William C. Dement writes that when people are sleep deprived, we lack energy during the day. This lack of energy means that not only do we accomplish less, we also don't burn many calories. The body reacts to this by hoarding calories as fat, making weight loss very difficult.
So how do you get a full night's sleep so you can have the hormone levels that can help with weight loss? Here are some general sleep tips to get you started.
o Avoid napping during the day.
o Limit or omit the use of alcohol and caffeine and avoid smoking, especially in the late afternoon and evening hours.
o Exercise regularly, but not within three hours of bedtime.
o Avoid mental stimulation just before going to sleep.
o Avoid using your bed for reading or watching TV.
o Try not to go to bed hungry, or within three hours of eating a full meal. Eating foods high in protein close to bedtime can keep you awake because your body thinks it should get active.
o Eat a healthy diet (consulting a book on nutrition or speaking to a nutritionist might be necessary to establish a better diet) and supplement your diet with a good multi-vitamin.
Remember these two simple, natural methods that can help increase deep sleep
- Make sure you exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes three or four times a week.
- Take a warm bath just before going to bed to raise your body temperature.