Less Sleep Causes Weight Gain

Less Sleep Causes Weight Gain
Photo by Michael Tercha, Chicago Tribune / January 12, 2011

Are you getting your beauty rest? Less sleep may alter your appearance more than previously thought.  Research on the science of sleep shows a link - and credible studies indicate a correlation between lack of sleep and overeating among Americans.

One study from Columbia University / St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital found that people who sleep only four hours per night eat an average of 330 more calories the following day. Keep in mind that 3500 calories = one pound of fat. So roughly 10 days of sleep deprivation @ 330 extra calories a day could end up as one pound of extra weight! That doesn’t count calories consumed from the late night munchies either.

The findings suggest that lack of sleep may increase levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone called ghrelin. A 2004 study appearing in the journal PLoS Medicine proves that as the hours of sleep increase, ghrelin concentrations decrease, thereby potentially reducing appetite and overeating.

Here are some tips on creating and keeping a regular sleep cycle to help “avoid the Noid”.

  • Set a bedtime goal to allow for 7 or 8 hours of rest. Changing the amount of sleep you get every few days is like creating jet lag, and can in fact make it harder to fall asleep and rest through the night.
  • Unplug for 30 – 60 minutes before bedtime to wind down before sleeping. Bright lights, including those from TV, laptops, and phone, actually signal your brain to remain alert, stifling your natural sleep drive.
  • If you still can’t fall asleep, read a book. Reading a book, magazine, or content on a non-backlight reading device until you’re tired is ideal. If you toss and turn, get up repeat as necessary.
  • Wake up at a regular time, even if you missed your bedtime, to maintain your regular sleep routine. This will make it easier to get back on schedule the following night.
  • No more snoozing. According to Joyce Walsleben, Ph.D., of the New York University Sleep Disorders Center, “you are much better off getting up and out of bed when the alarm sounds than sneaking in additional sleep — it only makes you more sluggish.” In fact, an hour’s worth of drifting in and out of sleep does less for your body than just 15 minutes of steady rest.

Making a routine of this basic combination will also help you fall asleep faster and feel more rested when you wake up. As a result, the more well-rested you are day-to-day, throughout your week, the less likely you are to break out of other constructive routines, like eating regular meals.  Don’t cheat your body out of the sleep you need, and all the good that comes with it.

Josha Krueger is a NSCA-CSCS certified personal trainer, an AFPA Sports Nutrition Consultant, and owner of Kru Strength + Fitness.

Filed under: Exercise, Nutrition

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