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Sleep May Be the Key to Losing Weight

Sleep May Be the Key to Losing Weight

We all know that getting a good night’s rest is key to better, more productive days, but sleep may also be a key factor in regulating appetite and weight in people of all ages.

A recent study found that sleep duration affects the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which regulate hunger. Leptin is secreted in fat cells and helps the brain signal when it is getting full. Ghrelin is secreted in the stomach and stimulates hunger. Not getting enough sleep prohibits the body’s ability to process insulin, the hormone needed to process sugar, starches, and other food into energy. If the body doesn’t respond to insulin properly, then the body doesn’t process fat from the bloodstream and ends up storing it as fat.

Researchers find that adults who get less than 7 hours sleep a night are at a 40% greater risk of obesity than those with longer sleep patterns. Sleep duration has been repeatedly linked to lower BMI (body mass index) and waist circumference.

A study recently found that children 2 to 6 years old who stay awake past 9:00 p.m. may have an increased risk of obesity as well as greater increases in BMI and waist circumference. Shorter sleep durations in children are also associated with higher insulin levels and insulin insensitivity, which means that young bodies are not able to process insulin and glucose properly, potentially leading to weight gain.

In today’s world of staying connected at all times, sleep can be difficult. Here are a few things to consider when trying to add a few extra hours of sleep to your schedule:

  • Create a bedtime routine and stick to that schedule, waking up and going to bed at the same time each night.
  • Shut down all electronics at least one hour before bedtime.
  • Save the bedroom for sleep and relaxation with low to minimal lighting. Darkness cues the body to release melatonin, a natural sleep hormone, while light suppresses it.
  • Watch what you eat and drink before bedtime. Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol at least 3 hours before bed.

Make sleep a priority at any age. It is important to develop healthy sleep habits early and focus on the number of hours of sleep you get a night. Too little sleep contributes to daytime sleepiness, poor productivity, poor immune response, weight gain, and hampers your metabolism.