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Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain

Lisa Nelson Health Pro September 10, 2009
  • A lack of sleep is a common problem. We are so busy, it is frequently hard to make going to bed at a reasonable time a priority. However, if you are struggling to lose weight, getting adequate sleep is essential. Research shows a strong link between a lack of sleep and obesity.


    Sleep deprivation affects the balance of two hormones that regulate appetite and satiety - leptin and ghrelin.  Leptin is produced by fat cells and signals the brain when you are full. Ghrelin is produced by stomach cells and signals the brain you are hungry and should eat. Studies show that when you are sleep deprived, leptin levels decrease and ghrelin levels increase. This causes you to feel the urge to eat more when you do not get enough sleep.


    You need at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night.


    Here are a few tips to help you get a good nights sleep:


    1. Exercise regularly.


    Being regularly active during the day makes falling asleep easier. As little as 20-30 minutes of activity helps. Don't exercise too late, which can actually stimulate the body and make sleep more difficult.


    2. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.


    Alcohol makes falling asleep easier, but reduces the quality of sleep you receive. Caffeine can still interfere with sleep up to 10-12 hours after consuming it. Nicotine found in tobacco acts as a stimulant which may disrupt sleep.


    3. Select bedtime snacks that promote sleep.


    A light snack before bed may promote better sleep, especially if it contains the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan combined with a carbohydrate source promotes better sleep. Adding calcium will also help the brain use and process the tryptophan.


    Here are a few examples of good bedtime snacks:


    Warm milk with half a peanut butter sandwich
    Low fat yogurt with granola
    Hot chamomile tea with a piece of fruit

     

    4. Avoid a large meal or too much liquid close to bedtime.


    Consuming a large meal before bed can make sleep difficult due to the bodies focus on digestion. Too much liquid before bed can cause you to wake for frequent bathroom trips.


    5. Keep a regular bedtime schedule.

     

    This is one of the most important habits you can maintain to achieve adequate sleep. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends. This will make it easier to fall asleep and improve your overall quality of sleep.

     

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