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.
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
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.”
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.
Health October 4, 2010
Dr. Mercola’s Comments:
is a cornerstone of good health, yet is probably, by and large,
the most ignored factor.
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.
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
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.
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.
In this latest
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.
reported feeling less hungry throughout each day compared with
those who slept less.
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
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.
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.
Depend on Your Body Clock to Set the Pace…
to realize just how vital a function
your internal body clock serves, because in many ways it helps
regulate your overall health.
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.
normally, this ‘internal clock’ is what wakes your body in the
morning and makes you get sleepy once darkness falls.
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
earlier, these hormonal alterations basically instruct your body
to “be hungry,” and “store fat.”
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.
explanation for this is that your brain is fueled by glucose (blood
sugar); therefore, when you’re sleep deprived, your brain searches
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
Risks Linked to Poor or Insufficient Sleep
to impaired weight control, poor sleep is associated with a number
of other potentially serious health risks.
interrupted or impaired sleep can:
weaken your immune
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
your performance on physical or mental tasks, and decrease your
problem solving ability
blood sugar levels and increase
your risk of diabetes
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
(high blood pressure)
or worsen depression
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.
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.
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
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).
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,
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.
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.
the Ideal Amount of Sleep?
excessive sleeping is not the answer to any of these problems
more than nine hours has also been linked to a number of health
issues, including weight gain, back pain, headaches, depression
and heart disease.
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
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
Sleep Foundation (NSF) calls your basal sleep need
and your sleep debt:
Sleep Need: The amount of sleep you need on a regular basis
for optimal performance
Debt: The accumulated sleep lost due to poor sleep habits, sickness,
environmental factors and other causes
that healthy adults have a basal sleep need of seven to eight
hours each night, corresponding nicely with all the research
findings discussed above.
If you still
feel tired and fuzzy headed when the alarm goes off, you probably
aren’t getting sufficient 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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
the temperature in the bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F.
Many people keep their homes and particularly the upstairs bedrooms
a high-protein snack several hours before bed. This
can provide the L-tryptophan need to produce melatonin and serotonin.
you can use Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). It effectively
addresses emotional reasons for insomnia. See Using
EFT for Insomnia.