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How To Lose Weight With Sleep

The best way to lose weight is to find a sustainable diet and exercise plan that you enjoy and therefore can be consistent with. But rarely do we think about our sleep when maintaining a successful weight loss programme, however sleep is one of the most important factors in achieving meaningful results. Making sure you have enough high quality sleep means not only will you be able to perform exercises effectively and with high energy but it will ensure that your hormones will be in balance so you don’t feel hungry.

There are two main hormones that control our appetite. Leptin which controls how full we feel and ghrelin which controls how hungry we are. If either or both of these hormones are out of balance then we are very likely to overeat and gain weight. A study by Dr Eve Van Cauter, a professor at the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago, showed this to great effect. She divided healthy participants into two groups: one group that was permitted a normal night’s sleep of up to 8.5 hours and the other group was permitted up to 4 or 5 hours sleep over the course of a 5 day period. Each group had the same lodgings, activity levels and food quantities. The latter group of minimal sleepers reported being ravenous after only the first day with the normal sleepers showing that they had a normal controlled appetite.

Another similar study by Dr van Cauter showed that the minimal sleepers ate 300 more calories per day than the normal sleepers - scale this up over a long period of time and it is no surprise that sleeping badly means we can put on significant amounts of weight without knowing what the issue is. There are many of us who do not get the correct amount and quality of sleep we need and this can be linked to putting on weight.

So when we are lacking sleep we are being influenced from two angles: our leptin decreases meaning our brains are no longer telling us when we are full and our ghrelin increases meaning we constantly feel hungry. Our appetites aren’t satisfied like they would be if we were well slept and we tend to overeat. This all makes perfect sense - we can relate to feeling hungry at the airport having woken up early to catch a flight or if we have been out partying the night before, the next day no amount of food seems to satisfy us.

Based on this evidence, the best way to keep us on track when looking to lose weight is to take our sleep seriously and make sure we are getting enough and that the sleep is of high enough quality.

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