Sunday,22 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1218, (23 - 29 October 2014)
Sunday,22 July, 2018
Issue 1218, (23 - 29 October 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Sleep better, weigh less

Let’s talk about better living! Our new interactive family corner aims to expand our lifestyle horizons with practical little pearls of wisdom from the editor and input from our readers.

Did you sleep well last night? In today’s world, snoozing can be difficult, particularly when all your screens — computers, TVs, cell phones and tablets — lure you into staying up just a little bit longer.

But be aware, dears, lack of sleep can affect your weight. Yes, it’s true, your body has its own plan for gaining weight. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that sleeping patterns can help fuel your fat-burning engines while you’re sleeping. In other words, a bad sleeping pattern can sabotage your weight-loss efforts.

Therefore, in order to lose weight you need to add a proper sleep plan to your food and exercise plan. Honestly, getting enough shut-eye is as important to your health, well-being and weight as diet and exercise.

Here are some facts you need to know about sleep and weight loss to help you get the body you’ve always dreamed of:

Insufficient sleep makes you overeat:
Sleep is like nutrition for the brain, and insufficient sleep impacts ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and leptin, the fullness hormone. Ghrelin signals to your brain that it’s time to eat. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body makes more ghrelin. Leptin, on the other hand, cues your brain to put the fork down. When you’re running on low sleep (less than eight hours a night), leptin levels plummet, signalling to your brain to eat more food. Put the two together and it’s no wonder sleep deprivation leads to overeating and extra pounds.

Short sleepers crave more of the wrong stuff:
Lack of sleep also leaves you hungrier, but you’ll be craving the wrong things. Studies have found that when people are starved of sleep, late-night snacking increases, and they are more likely to choose bigger portions of high-carb snacks. This is because sleep restriction activates reward centres in the brain, which means you crave sugary and high-calorie junk foods.

Seven to eight hours of sleep is best. No more, no less:
Finally, don’t get your hopes up thinking that sleeping-in will solve all your problems. Oversleeping can be harmful. In fact, while sleeping seven to eight hours is the optimal amount of shut-eye, five to six hours and nine to ten hours are both linked to a higher body mass index.

Less sleep, less fat loss:
Your body is used to slowing down and conserving energy at night. So when you don’t sleep, your body needs to make up for the extra hours of wakefulness and burn calories to compensate. But instead of burning fat, a short sleeper is more likely to hold onto fat and turn to lean body mass for energy instead.

Lack of sleep can stress you out:
Partial sleep loss can result in elevated levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, the next morning. This hormone intensifies feelings of hunger and promotes fat deposits in the abdominal region.

Don’t be afraid of the dark:
Darkness is important for sleep because melatonin, the sleep-promoting hormone that regulates sleep/wake patterns, is released at night and is suppressed by light. Light close to bedtime can trick the brain into thinking it’s still daytime, which delays the onset of melatonin and all its sleep-promoting effects.

Your cell phone is sabotaging you:
Don’t do a last check of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter before going to bed. Artificial light, particularly short-wavelength blue light, does the most damage. Your cell phone, computer, energy-efficient light bulbs and most modern-day electronics all emit artificial light and are good at suppressing melatonin. According to the US National Sleep Foundation, it is best to turn off electronics at least an hour before bed.

Lost sleep messes with the metabolism:
Sleep deprivation hampers your metabolism and contributes to weight gain. It makes you metabolically groggy. There’s evidence that lack of sleep can alter the amount of calories you burn and set you up for eating more calories. A study conducted by the University of Chicago has revealed that within just four days of insufficient sleep your body’s ability to process insulin goes awry. And if your body has trouble processing fats from your bloodstream, it can end up storing them as fat.

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