Sleep Better to Lose Weight?

September 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Life Mastery

sleep and weight lossCan you lose weight if you just manage to sleep better? It sounds too good to be true—but recent research indicates that there is a definite connection between how much you weigh, and the amount of undisturbed sleep you get per night.

Two of your natural hormones, ghrelin and leptin, help control your appetite. When you don’t get enough rest, levels of ghrelin rise increase your hunger, while levels of leptin, which promote feelings of fullness, decrease. A study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology reported a significant disruption of nighttime ghrelin levels in chronic insomniacs and restless sleepers.

According to the study, this hormone imbalance leads people to experience an increase in appetite during the day, and weight gain over time.

In addition to creating a ghrelin and leptin imbalance , sleep deprivation or disturbances also cause higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases cravings for high-carb, high-calorie “comfort foods.”

Furthermore, the brain secretes growth hormone (HGH) during the deep-sleep phase, helping the body convert fat to fuel. AND Without enough deep sleep, fat begins to accumulate. This goes against any attempt to lose weight. To lose weight, you must learn to control your stress — and this, in turn, also leads to improved sleep.

Sleep expert Michael Breus, clinical director of the sleep division at Southwest Spine and Sports in Scottsdale, Arizona, says that there is no magic number of hours people should sleep, but that the average adult needs about five 90-minute sleep cycles per night — so 7.5 hours seems optimal as a minimum.

But simply getting under the covers is probably not a sufficient strategy to achieve long-term weight loss, Breus says.

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