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How Sleep Can Help You Stay in Shape

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Although we’re not recommending napping all day, it is important to know how sleep can help you stay in shape. It’s a critical part of our health regimen that too many of us overlook, either because we are working too much, taking care of everyone else, or just wasting time on social media. But if you’re trying to lose weight and stay healthy, sleep is just as important as diet and exercise. Did you know that women who slept less than six hours a night or more than nine hours were more likely to gain 11 pounds compared with women who slept seven hours a night? Or that dieters who cut back on sleep over a 14-day period lost 55% less fat than those dieters who got a normal night’s sleep? Let’s look at some of the reasons for this unexpected weight gain.

Bad decisions

So why does a lack of sleep make us gain weight? Well it’s a little like being drunk – you don’t have the mental clarity to make good decisions because your brain is foggy. A more technical answer is that lack of sleep or bad quality sleep dulls activity in your brain’s frontal lobe, the locus of decision-making and impulse control. This makes it easy for you to make bad decisions and keep doing bad habits like leaning on a caramel covered latte to make it through the morning, or skipping your afternoon walk because you’re just too tired to move.

Hormone frenzy

Another way that insufficient sleep impacts your weight is through the hunger and fullness hormones, including two called ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin signals your brain that it’s time to eat. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body makes more ghrelin. This isn’t good because then your hormones are telling you to eat more than you really need to. And leptin, on the other hand, cues your brain to push back the plate and stop eating. When you’re not getting enough sleep, leptin levels take a nose dive, signaling your brain to eat more food. Put these two hormones together, and it’s no wonder sleep deprivation leads to an overeating frenzy and extra pounds.

Stress trigger

Unfortunately, cortisol spikes when you get too little sleep. This stress hormone signals your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours. So what does that mean? Well your body is hanging on to calories and fat to deal with this “stressful” situation that your body is anticipating. And not to mention, it really messes up your metabolism. When you’re sleep deprived, you’re also likely to make stress-induced food purchases like crunchy, salty chips and fat-laden ice cream bars. Studies show that when you’re stressed, late-night snacking increased and subjects were more likely to choose high-carb snacks instead of a healthy dose of veggies. 

how-sleep-can-help-you-stay-in-shapeTips to help you sleep

1. Stop using electronics at least an hour before bed. The light from these machines messes up your internal clock and signals to your body to stay alert.

2. Avoid caffeine late in the day. After 2 p.m. is a good guideline. This includes coffee, soda, energy drinks, and any foods that might have caffeine.

3. Limit the snacks. Munching on fatty snacks is going to give you indigestion, so keep it light if you’re going to eat anything before bed.

4. Leave work outside of the bedroom. Make your bedroom a sanctuary for rest and relaxation, not work and stress.

5. Keep your room a comfortable temperature. Have a fan, or an open window to circulate air and don’t keep your room too hot or cold so that you’re tossing and turning all night.

6. Soothing colors and fabrics. Ease your mind and promote good sleep with peaceful, calm colors to help your mind and body get in the mood for sleep.

Now that you know the importance of sleep for your weight loss goals, put some of these into practice and get some zzzzz’s!

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About the author

Viance Nutrition

Hi! I'm Walt Landi the founder and CEO of Viance Nutrition. Welcome to our Blog. I maintain this Blog as a free resource for anyone wishing to improve their health. Your comments and feedback are always welcomed and you can email me direct at walt@viance.com if you have any suggestions. Thanks. Ps. Spread the word and check out our products at viance.com. :)

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