Weight Loss through a Good Night’s Sleep

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Your weight gain can be caused by a lack of sleep.

An estimated 50-70 million Americans are suffering mentally and physically from a lack of sleep (1). Though eating habits obviously play a role in weight gain, studies have shown that there is a definite relationship between a lack of sleep and weight gain.

Various hormones released during your sleep regulate your weight and appetite.

Leptin, released during sleep, is the hormone which tells your body that it is full and doesn’t need more food. The lower the levels of leptin in your body, the more of the hormone ghrelin is released to increase your hunger (2). The growth hormone is also released during sleep; while this hormone causes growth in children, it controls muscle mass and fat level in adults (1).

A University of Chicago research found definite relationship between too little sleep and increased appetite/weight gain. The people in the study who slept only 4 hours a night had leptin levels decrease by 18 percent. This caused the ghrelin levels, which stimulate appetite, to increase by 28 percent (2). These results should be motivational in getting a good night’s sleep. Many of us just stay so busy that sleep is the easiest thing to cut back on.

If stress is causing your lack of sleep, not putting into action a plan to deal with stress will only add to your weight problems.

Stress increases your levels of adrenaline and cortisol, mobilizing the body’s sugar supply, for the purpose of quick thinking and action in emergency situations. If you live in a frequent or continual state of stress, the excess cortisol will make your body think that it is in need of more and more energy supply for a “fight or flight” response that is not physically taking place; in other words, you are not physically running away from danger and using up those food sources, but the stress causes your body to think that you are. The result is increased hunger, since your body thinks it needs to replace those food sources.

Some studies have shown that stress and elevated cortisol tend to cause fat to specifically be deposited in the abdominal area rather than in the hips. These fat deposits are referred to as “toxic fat” since abdominal fat is strongly correlated with the development of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and strokes (3)

Just how much sleep should a person have for good weight and health?

Most people need between 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. According to Dr. Don Colbert’s research, his patients usually find that 8 hours is about a perfect amount, less making a person drowsy and more making a person sluggish (4). You can find your level of sleep by varying from the 8 hours, a little less or a little more, and seeing which amount makes you feel drowsy, sluggish, or well rested.

Many factors can play into your weight gain. If you know that your eating habits are healthy but your sleep habits are not, it is worth the effort to get a good night’s sleep. As numerous other health issues are also affected by a lack of sleep, a good night’s sleep is a winning choice to bring lasting benefits to your weight and health.

(1) Seven Pillars of Health, Dr. Don Colbert, pg. 38

(2) Extraordinary Health, Julie Helm, Vol. 4, pg. 15

(3) MedicineNet.com Article

(4) Seven Pillars of Health, Dr. Don Colbert, pg. 46

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