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Less dieting, more sleeping

14th June 2016 Print

When trying to lose weight, or maintain a healthy body mass index, all of the talk of diet and exercise can make you just want to lie down and take a nap. Luckily, studies show that this might actually be a good idea. Recent research by The Endocrine Society proves that a lack of sleep “can have long-term consequences for body weight and metabolism.” Therefore, people aiming to lose weight should spend a less time counting calories, and a more time counting sheep.

How to get more sleep

The first thing to do, as simple as it may sound, is to make sleep a priority. It is best to set aside a designated time every day for going to bed and waking up. This ritual will help to trigger your body for sleep, and ensure that you have set aside the recommended eight hours that you most people require. It also helps to create an ideal resting environment to help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.

Getting a mattress from a company like this is also a great idea, as the material is a memory foam design (which also has state of the art cooling tech to keep your body temp regulated) and doesn’t contain springs, since these can engage pressure points and cause pain in the areas where your body is touching the mattress. This pain signals you to roll over in order to restore blood flow and oxygen to these areas, resulting in a restless night’s sleep.

Other things that can make your sleep restless is too much light in your room, too much noise, having the room too hot or too cold (you want it to be somewhere around 20°C), and having too many electronic items in the bedroom which interrupt deep slumber.

How lack of sleep affects weight

It is actually relatively basic science, but when you don’t get enough sleep, your body stimulates the release of cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for keeping you alert, but it also kicks your appetite into gear. Along with feeling tired most of the day, people who are lacking in sleep will often feel the urge to eat. This is also a response because your body feels like it is lacking in energy, and food is one way to give it the energy that it needs.

Sleep deprivation also causes the body to increase the production of the hormone called ghrelin (which also stimulates hunger) and decrease the production of leptin (which indicates when to tell you to stop eating). So not only do you want to eat to gain energy, but you can’t properly register when you have already eaten enough. This leads to overeating and not enough activity to work off excessive calorie intake. And since a lack of sleep also slows down your metabolism, there is a higher likelihood of food getting stored as fat instead of processed for energy and then dispelled.

Moreover, since a lack of sleep makes a person more susceptible to anxiety, depression, and stress, and we are currently seeing a trend that “Britain’s workforce is turning to unhealthy food and drink habits to combat workplace stress,” this lack of sleep will make you more likely to reach for unhealthy comfort foods over healthier options.