The 'Lazy' Person's Way to Slim Down

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If you’re
trying your best to eat right and exercise, it might be worth
it to make sure you get the proper amount of sleep each night,
according to a new study that suggests lack of sleep can throw
off a diet.

According
to CNN Health, research from the University of Chicago showed
that dieters who slept for 8.5 hours lost 55 percent more body
fat than dieters who slept 5.5 hours

“The
dieters who slept less reported feeling hungrier throughout the
course of the study,” CNN said, even though “they ate the same
diet, consumed multivitamins and performed the same type of work
or leisure activities.”

The study
authors concluded that “Lack of sufficient sleep may compromise
the efficacy of typical dietary interventions for weight loss
and related metabolic risk reduction,” CNN said. The study was
released October 4 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Source: CNN
Health October 4, 2010

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Good sleep
is a cornerstone of good health, yet is probably, by and large,
the most ignored factor.

According
to the 2010 “Sleep
in America Poll
” by The National Sleep Foundation, only about
40 percent of respondents reported getting a good night’s sleep
every night, or almost every night, of the week.

There are
many likely reasons for this. But part of the problem may be that
many have bought into the fallacy that
you can safely make do with less than eight hours of sleep a day
.
Modern society has more or less brainwashed us into thinking that
sleeping is for wimps, or a sign of lazy luxury that most cannot
afford.

This, as
it turns out, is not true, and studies have linked poor or insufficient
sleep with a wide range of health problems – including weight
gain and obesity.

This latest
study again confirms that if you do not take your sleep needs
seriously, you could be unknowingly sabotaging your weight, not
to mention your overall health.

Sleep Less,
Weigh More

In this latest
study, published
in the Annals of Internal Medicine
, dieters who slept for
8.5 hours lost 55 percent more body fat than dieters who only
got 5.5 hours of shut-eye.

They also
reported feeling less hungry throughout each day compared with
those who slept less.

These results
were echoed in another
recent study published earlier this year
, in which subjects
who slept less than six hours per night had a 32 percent gain
in visceral
fat
, compared to a 13 percent gain among those who slept six
or seven hours per night, and a 22 percent increase among men
and women who got at least eight hours of sleep each night. This
is the type of fat linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, strokes
and other chronic diseases.

But why would
lack of sleep lead to increased weight?

It is believed
that insufficient amounts of sleep affect your hunger-regulating
hormones, leptin and ghrelin. This and other studies have shown
that when you are sleep deprived, your body decreases production
of leptin (whose job it is to tell your brain when you’re full
and should stop eating), while at the same time increasing levels
of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.

Lack of sleep
also appears to affect glucose and fat utilization in your body,
as well as energy metabolism — all of which can lead to a decreased
ability to lose weight.

Although
none of the studies mentioned in this article can prove that a
lack of sleep directly causes fat gain, they all support
the proposed link between sleep duration – particularly a
lack of sleep — and weight gain, as well as an increased risk
of diabetes and heart disease.

Your Hormones
Depend on Your Body Clock to Set the Pace…

It’s important
to realize just how vital a function
your internal body clock serves
, because in many ways it helps
regulate your overall health.

The physiological
functions of virtually all organisms are governed by 24-hour
circadian rhythms
. Your circadian clock is an essential time-tracking
system, which your body uses to anticipate environmental changes
and adapt to the appropriate time of day.

When operating
normally, this ‘internal clock’ is what wakes your body in the
morning and makes you get sleepy once darkness falls.

However,
if you deprive yourself of sleep, or eat meals at odd hours (times
at which your internal clock expects you to be sleeping), you
send conflicting signals to your body that can confuse and unbalance
this internal system.

In one study,
researchers found that people who got
four hours of sleep a night
for just two nights in
a row experienced:

  • 18 percent
    reduction in leptin
  • 28 percent
    increase in ghrelin

As described
earlier, these hormonal alterations basically instruct your body
to “be hungry,” and “store fat.”

In addition,
previous
research
has also shown that subjects tend to crave more sweet
and starchy foods opposed to vegetables and dairy products when
getting less than six hours of sleep.

One possible
explanation for this is that your brain is fueled by glucose (blood
sugar); therefore, when you’re sleep deprived, your brain searches
for carbohydrates.

Regardless
of the exact mechanisms, it’s clear that sleep deprivation can
push your body into a pre-diabetic state and make you feel hungry,
even if you’ve already eaten — both of which can lead to weight
problems.

Other Health
Risks Linked to Poor or Insufficient Sleep

In addition
to impaired weight control, poor sleep is associated with a number
of other potentially serious health risks.

For example,
interrupted or impaired sleep can:

  • Dramatically
    weaken your immune
    system
  • Seriously
    impair your memory
    ; even a single night of poor sleep –
    meaning sleeping only 4 to 6 hours – can impact your ability
    to think clearly the next day
  • Impair
    your performance on physical or mental tasks, and decrease your
    problem solving ability
  • Raise
    blood sugar levels and increase
    your risk of diabetes
  • Accelerate
    aging
    – Sleep deprivation prematurely ages you by interfering
    with your growth
    hormone production
    , normally released by your pituitary
    gland during deep sleep (and during certain types of exercise,
    such as Peak
    8 exercises
    ). Growth hormone helps you look and feel younger.
  • Lead to
    hypertension
    (high blood pressure)
  • Cause
    or worsen depression
  • Increase
    your risk of cardiovascular disease — One recent
    study
    found that sleeping fewer than five hours a day more
    than doubles your risk of being diagnosed with angina, coronary
    heart disease, heart attack or stroke.

    But sleeping
    more than seven hours also increased the risk of
    cardiovascular disease; more than nine hours of sleep resulted
    in a 50 percent increase in risk.

    Although
    a direct causative relationship between certain amounts of
    sleep and cardiovascular disease has yet to be found, researchers
    believe it is related to your endocrine and metabolic functions.
    In addition, sleep deprivation can impair your glucose tolerance
    and insulin sensitivity, and can raise your blood pressure
    – all of which are associated with hardening of your
    arteries.

  • Increase
    your risk of cancer
    and accelerate tumor growth by altering
    the balance of hormones in your body. (Tumors grow two to three
    times faster in laboratory animals with severe sleep dysfunctions).

    One explanation
    for this is related to your production of melatonin, which
    is both a hormone and an antioxidant. When your circadian
    rhythms are disrupted, your body produces less melatonin,
    which reduces
    your body’s ability to fight cancer
    since melatonin helps
    suppress free radicals that can lead to cancer. This is also
    why tumors grow faster when you sleep poorly.

  • Increase
    your risk of dying from any cause — According to one study,
    people with chronic insomnia have a three times greater
    risk of dying
    from any cause.

So, What’s
the Ideal Amount of Sleep?

Interestingly,
excessive sleeping is not the answer to any of these problems
because sleeping
more than nine hours has also been linked to a number of health
issues
, including weight gain, back pain, headaches, depression
and heart disease.

So, what
is the ideal amount of sleep?

It appears
the Goldilocks’ zone can be found somewhere between six
to eight hours per night for most adults.

Keep in mind
that your age and activity level will influence your sleep needs
to some extent. Children and teens, for instance, need more sleep
than adults.

However,
your sleep needs are individual to you. You may require more or
less sleep than someone of the same age, gender and activity level.
Part of the reason for the difference has to do with what the
National
Sleep Foundation (NSF)
calls your basal sleep need
and your sleep debt:

  • Basal
    Sleep Need: The amount of sleep you need on a regular basis
    for optimal performance
  • Sleep
    Debt: The accumulated sleep lost due to poor sleep habits, sickness,
    environmental factors and other causes

Studies suggest
that healthy adults have a basal sleep need of seven to eight
hours each night, corresponding nicely with all the research
findings discussed above.

Your best
bet?

Listen to
your body!

If you still
feel tired and fuzzy headed when the alarm goes off, you probably
aren’t getting sufficient sleep.

Can’t Sleep?
Try Something New…

If you have
trouble sleeping, take advantage of some of the many practical
solutions I’ve outlined in my 33
Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep
, which include:

  • Avoid
    before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars.
    This will raise blood sugar and inhibit sleep. Later, when blood
    sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia), you might wake up and not
    be able to fall back asleep.
  • Sleep
    in complete darkness or as close as possible. If there
    is even the tiniest bit of light in your room it can disrupt
    your circadian rhythm and your pineal gland’s production of
    melatonin and serotonin.
  • No
    TV right before bed. Even better, get the TV out of
    the bedroom or even out of the house, completely. It is too
    stimulating to your brain and it will take longer to fall asleep.
  • Wear
    socks to bed. Due to the fact that they have the poorest
    circulation, your feet often feel cold before the rest of your
    body. A study has shown that wearing socks reduces night wakings
  • Get
    to bed as early as possible. Our systems, particularly
    our adrenals, do a majority of their recharging or recovering
    during the hours of 11PM and 1AM.
  • Keep
    the temperature in the bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F.
    Many people keep their homes and particularly the upstairs bedrooms
    too hot.
  • Eat
    a high-protein snack several hours before bed. This
    can provide the L-tryptophan need to produce melatonin and serotonin.

In addition,
you can use Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). It effectively
addresses emotional reasons for insomnia. See Using
EFT for Insomnia
.

October
22, 2010

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