You’ve always heard about beauty sleep and how a good night’s rest can help you reduce wrinkles and facial lines, and ensure that you have glowing healthy skin. But did you know that sleep is just as important to your healthy body weight?
According to the University of Chicago sleep researcher Eve Van Cauter, a lack of adequate sleep is an important factor of our growing obesity and diabetes problem in North America and the Western world. In 2005, the National Sleep Foundation reported that only 26% of American adults were obtaining 8 hours of sleep a night. In fact, more than 67% of Americans sleep less than 6.7 hours on a typical weekday and no more than 7.5 hours on a weekend. When sleep specialists recommend adults to get eight to ten hours of sleep a night; that means that more than three-quarters of American adults are working, playing, and driving under the influence of sleep deprivation.
Interestingly enough, recent statistics show that more than 65% of Americans are overweight, or obese. And many of these overweight or obese individuals report that they have some sort of sleep-related problem. These poor sleep habits and patterns are weighing heavily on us. Sleep researchers are now finding a connection between sleep deprivation and irregular appetites which they say are leading us to become overweight or obese. In clinical tests, scientists have discovered that the hypothalamus, a portion of the brain that is responsible for the production of two appetite-controlling hormones, is affected by the amount of sleep that a person gets.
In her sleep studies, Van Cauter found that test subjects who get less sleep tend to have higher levels of ghrelin – a hormone that stimulates our appetite – in their bloodstream. Alternately, these same test subjects have lower levels of leptin – a hormone that helps us feel satisfied or full – in their bodies. These hormones, Van Cauter found, act like a see-saw to control our appetites.
But what does that have to do with being overweight?
When we fail to get a good night’s sleep, our body responds by making us feel tired. Interestingly enough, the body’s sensation of “fatigue” feels a lot like being hungry. So, we routinely mistake our fatigue for hunger and reach for food to keep our body going when, instead, we should be trying to find a way to get a better night’s sleep.
Let’s face it, when we’re feeling tired, the last thing we want to do is go for a run, a long walk, or a bike ride. Be honest. You know that, on days when you have no energy, you simply sit and rest, lie down, take it slow and easy at whatever you absolutely HAVE to do or just avoid doing anything. You watch television, you read a book, you snack on chips, chocolates, and ice cream. You don’t even want to make the effort to cook a healthy meal. It’s too much work, and you’re tired already. This is completely natural and understandable.
So what do you do about this problem?
Get a good nights’ sleep. It sounds simple, but for many, a good nights’ sleep is a fantasy. Far too many people have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Anxiety causes many to wake in the middle of the night. Some simply can’t sleep more than five hours – others can’t still their mind enough to actually fall asleep and spend the entire night in fitful sleep. They catnap throughout the day, taking short rests to make up for their lack of sleep at night. They take sleep aids to help them have a deep sleep, which only masks the real cause.
GETTING SOME Z’s
- Identifying the Problem
To help you achieve your best weight loss goals, you need to be getting a better night’s sleep. But there are so many things that might just be keeping you from getting the rest you need. The first step to a better night’s sleep is to identify the things that are robbing you of your precious zzz’s. This can be easy or may take time and even medical consultation, depending on the severity of your sleep disorder. Moreover, using a UK waist trainer can be quite an effective and useful method through which you can reduce your weight and get your metabolism right. All this can further, improve your sleep cycle.
If your partner complains that you snore a lot and loudly, make sure that you visit your doctor to find out if you suffer from some form of sleep apnea. This is a common condition, especially for those who are overweight or obese. This condition causes you to stop breathing for short periods of time throughout your sleep cycle, causing oxygen deprivation and sleep interruption. Because it causes sleep interruption, those who have sleep apnea are more likely to become overweight, and that weight problem tends to worsen sleep apnea. It’s a vicious circle and therefore it’s important to identify this condition as quickly as possible to correct it.
- Common Sleep Thieves
Besides sleep apnea, there are numerous other sleep thieves. Identifying them is very often half of the solution already. Some of the most common sleep thieves may be:
Electronic radiation (wireless phone, cell phone, living near to a cell phone antenna, wireless internet, electronic alarm clocks, microwave ovens, etc.)
- Too much action before bedtime
- Certain movies
- Unpleasant discussions
- Unsolved problems
- The wrong food for dinner
Once you have identified the cause of your sleep problems you can begin to systematically eliminate these causes and develop a strategy that makes it easier for you to sleep well.
The important thing is to eliminate everything that robs you of good and deep sleep on one hand, and on the other hand, to implement habits that improve the quality of the sleep. This will help you not only snooze – but also lose – weight!
I wish you pleasant dreams of a healthier, happier, slimmer you!
Samira Gutoc is the founder and managing editor of Atlas and Co. She is also a content writer, blogger, poet, photographer and an editorial associate.