Elizabeth Arnott

Weight-loss and Sleep

Did you know that the amount of sleep you have each night affects your ability to lose weight?  Of course, eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and making sure that you exercise regularly are the major keys to weight loss.  But lack of sleep affects your metabolism, and therefore your ability to lose weight.  Researchers have found that the quantity and quality of your sleep may affect the hormonal activity connected to appetite.
Two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, greatly affect and influence our appetite, and their production is closely related to the amount and quality of our sleep.  Studies have shown that those who sleep less often weight more.  Leptin manages your appetite, and ghrelin arouses your hunger.  When you sleep less, the hormone leptin decreases, resulting in poor appetite management, leaving you feeling less satisfied after you eat and a desire for high carbohydrate and calorie foods. At the same time the hormone ghrelin increases, causing you to have strong feelings of hunger.  This imbalance of hormones makes you want to overeat, making weight loss difficult to achieve.
Have you noticed how, after sleeping less than 8 hours, you are drawn towards high calorie, comfort food? Lack of sleep on a regular basis reduces your energy levels, and your ability to function.  The higher your energy levels, the higher rate of burning calories.
Sleep restores your metabolism by allowing your body recover from the day's mental and physical activities.  An active metabolism restores muscular tissue, and a slow functioning metabolism burns calories at a lower rate, thereby reducing your ability to lose weight. 
Most people at some time in their lives have a problem going to sleep, or staying asleep.  Here are a few suggestions as to how to ensure a good night's sleep.

1.  Most important of all, be aware of what you eat, especially late at night.  A detox diet releases toxins from your body, and helps it to function normally, both day and night.  A heavy meal just before going to bed may make you fall asleep, but you will probably wake during the night, and be unable to go back to sleep again.  A light detox meal early in the evening is the ideal.  Avoid coffee and alcohol.
2.  Try to keep a regular schedule, and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.  Your body will respond well to a sleep/wake rhythm, and learn to take advantage of the recuperation and rest that it needs to remain healthy.
3.  If you have lost some sleep in the previous night, make up for it with nap in the afternoon.  My friends in Mexico will know what I mean when I say that I cannot survive without my afternoon siesta.
4.  Make sure you have plenty of exposure to daylight during the day, and limit exposure to light at night.  Have low lighting in your bedroom before you sleep, and when you do sleep, make sure it is really dark.  If necessary wear an eye mask. 

5.  Before going to bed, do not stimulate your brain and your eyes with the computer, iPad, cell phone, or any other electronic device that has a bright backlight.  And if you wake in the night, the best way to prevent yourself from going back to sleep is to turn on the television, or the computer.6. It is very relaxing to have a warm bath before going to bed.  Make it part of your relaxation routine.  

6. Play soft music at a low volume.  Set your radio or cd player to a timer, so that you can drift off and it will automatically turn itself off.  You could try wearing earplugs.
7.  When you are in bed, try slow, deep breathing, and then progressively relax your muscles from your toes slowly up to your head.  Don't stress about not going to sleep - make relaxation your goal, and visualize a restful night.  

Getting a good night's rest on a regular basis is important to prevent negative effects on your health, such as lack of energy, slow metabolism and difficulty in controlling your appetite.  Not only that, a good night's sleep keeps you happy, keeps your brain sharp, strengthens your immune system, keeps your skin looking youthful, and lowers the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. For successful weight-loss, make sure you get 8 hours' sleep.  


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