Sleep Your Way to a Healthier Weight

Cutting calories and working out are well-known ways to lose weight. Recent research shows, however, that another factor could significantly affect weight loss: sleep. Here are the ways that better sleep can lead to a healthier weight, and how to achieve it.

Avoids overeating

Missing your ZZZ’s can cause decreased levels of leptin, the hormone that gives a sense of fullness or satiation. This can increase appetite, often resulting in overconsumption. Similarly, levels of the hormone that makes you feel hungry, grehlin, increases when you are sleep deprived. This combination is what causes most tired people to eat an additional 300 calories a day than those who are well-rested.

Leads to better food choices

When people are tired, they’re more likely to reach for the easiest, tastiest food available, often in the form of high-fat snacks loaded with carbohydrates. This “eating for pleasure” sense is heightened in the afternoon for those who are sleep deprived and can lead to significant weight gain over a prolonged period of time.

Helps process sweets faster

Sleep deprivation can cause the food processing parts of your cells, the mitochondria, to shut down. This means that the sugar in your comfort foods just sits in your blood, raising your blood sugar levels. Your mitochondria are also what regulate your metabolism, or the number of calories burned for energy every day. Getting sufficient sleep can help maintain healthy mitochondria, and therefore, prevent weight gain.

To get better sleep…

Pay off your sleep debt. Most Americans don’t get the recommended eight hours of sleep every night, but it can be mostly made up over the next few nights. Over the weekend, go to bed at your usual weekday time, but then sleep until your body naturally wakes up the next morning. You will probably sleep for longer than usual, but it should go a long way in calibrating your sleep schedule.

Make sure you’re supporting these efforts with the best sleep essentials possible. Use a high-quality mattress and top it with pillows that are soft but supportive to help prevent waking up in the middle of the night.

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