Fact vs. Fiction: Sleep is a key factor for weight loss and maintenance
Fact. Research has shown that lack of sleep may cause weight gain and contribute to the growing obesity epidemic. Skimping on shuteye causes disruptions to a number of hormonal and metabolic processes. A 2004 University of Chicago study found that the hormones leptin (which signals the brain when we’ve eaten enough) and ghrelin (which triggers feelings of hunger) increased 18 percent and 28 percent respectively when subjects slept for four hours a night for two consecutive nights.
While the University of Chicago study specifically looked at the effects that a lack of sleep have on young men, another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology confirmed a similar link between lack of sleep and weight gain specifically in women. This study found that women who sleep less than 7 hours a night were at an increased risk for weight gain and obesity.
A study published last month in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked specifically at the effect of sleep deprivation on fat cells and found that a lack of sleep actually results in an insulin-resistant state, suggesting that sleep may in fact play an important role in energy metabolism.
So how much shuteye should you be striving for each night to enhance your overall health and well-being? Citing several studies, the National Sleep Foundation suggests that seven to nine hours of sleep per night is optimal for most adults.
Struggling to get to sleep or stay asleep? Check out these 10 tips for quality shuteye.
—Jessica Matthews, MS, exercise Physiologist for the American Council on Exercise
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