Getting enough rest promotes weight loss
Lose weight while you sleep? It sounds too good to be true – but recent research indicates that there is a connection between how much you weigh and the amount of shut-eye you get per night. It’s all related to your hormones.
Two hormones, ghrelin and leptin, help to control your appetite. When you do not get enough rest, the levels of ghrelin (increase feeling of hunger) rise, while levels of leptin (promote feeling of fullness) sink. A recent study found a significant disruption in overnight ghrelin levels in chronic insomniacs. According to the study, this hormone imbalance leads insomniacs to experience an increase in appetite during the day, leading to weight gain over time. A signal is sent to the brain that more food is needed, when, in fact, enough has been eaten.
In addition to creating an imbalance in ghrelin and leptin, sleep deprivation causes levels of the stress hormone cortisol to rise, which increases cravings for high-carb, high-calorie “comfort foods”. Furthermore, the brain secretes growth hormone during the deep-sleep phase, helping the body convert fat to fuel. Without enough deep sleep, fat accumulates.
Sleep expert Michael Breus, clinical director of the sleep division at Southwest Spine & Sports in Arizona, USA, says there is no magic number of hours people should sleep. However, he does state that the average adult needs about five 90-minute sleep cycles per night, so 7.5-8 hours seems optimal as a minimum.
"The bottom line is that if people are trying to diet and lose weight for health reasons, it makes sense to get a sufficient amount of sleep," said senior author Dr. Plamen D. Penev, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, the Times reported.
"If they're not getting enough sleep as they diet, they may have higher levels of hunger and be struggling to adhere to the (diet) regimen," Penev explained.
Unfortunately for some, simply getting under the covers is not a sufficient strategy to achieve long-term weight loss. What these findings suggest is that there’s an extra dimension to achieving a healthy weight: diet, exercise and enough sleep.
It is also important to note that rest and recovery (R & R) is a vital aspect of strength and power training. Studies suggest that sleep deprivation affects the immune system and physical performance in detrimental ways. This isn’t good when you are doing lots of exercise as intense training is very stressful to the body and can also lower the immune system. If you are training hard it is especially important to get the correct amount of sleep or else you will be leaving yourself open to colds and the flu. So whether your goal is to lose weight, tone up or add lean muscle, adequate sleep is very important!
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