Sleeping Your Way to Skinny
Sounds appealing, right?
Although mixing in a mid-day nap won’t actually make you skinny, recent research studies point out there is a definite correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain. I am sure that many of you are not frequent readers of USA Today or the Annals of Internal Medicine. So, let me share with you what they recently brought to my attention regarding sleep and weight loss.
A single sleep study was performed on seven healthy, lean, young adults and the results are astounding. After just FOUR consecutive days (Finals week ring a bell, anyone?) of being permitted to sleep approximately 4 hours a night, the fat cells’ ability to use insulin properly dropped by 30%! Consequently, the cells became insulin-sensitive, resulting in the formation of less leptin.
What does this mean? TWO KEY WORDS: Insulin and Leptin… do these words mean anything to you? You may be thinking, “Why on Earth would they?” But, what if I switched those two key words to HUNGRY and FULL?! One of insulin’s many jobs is to trigger the release of leptin in your body. Now you may not have realized this until now, but I am telling you leptin is your friend. What that wonderful little hormone does for you is flip that hungry/full switch on and off. Low levels of leptin tell your body it’s starving and increase your appetite, which is why it makes perfect sense that a decrease in leptin has an association with increase in food consumption and weight gain. So, when your stomach is roaring during your test after pulling that all-nighter even though you just treated yourself to Mickey D’s breakfast as a “reward” – it is actually your body saying, “Hey, maybe you should have gotten some sleep last night!”
What’s also important to recognize is that in addition to your body’s inability to accurately sense if you’re full due to those low leptin levels, those who are tired have an increased appetite as well as a slowed metabolism due to their lack of sleep. When combined, these effects are ultimately setting you up for a downward spiral.
So, as finals approach, shoot for 7 to 8 hours of sleep! It will not only help your ability to focus and retain information, but also assist in maintaining healthy weight and prevent you from feeling hungry all the time.
Stay tuned for upcoming tips on how to develop healthy sleeping habits in my next blog!