This blog was written by Megan Jack. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
Lose weight and feel great in just eight easy hours of sleep! I know, it sounds like a cheesy infomercial; but it turns out to be true. Researchers have previously linked lack of sleep and weight gain, but new facts are emerging that identify an even stronger relationship.
While you sleep, your body is working to restore itself and releases some pretty important hormones to regulate the body and your appetite: leptin (which sends a signal to the brain to identify when you’re full) and ghrelin (which stimulates appetite).
According to research at the University of Chicago and Stanford University, when sleep is restricted, leptin levels decrease while ghrelin levels increase. Volunteers who logged less than eight hours of sleep a night had increased body fat and increased their cravings for carbohydrate- and calorie-dense foods by 45 percent.
As if that weren’t enough to have you hitting the snooze on your alarm, growth hormone is also affected by sleep patterns. Growth hormone is released mostly at rest or while sleeping. It is responsible for regulating body fat and muscle proportion. Loss of sleep results in a decrease in growth hormone. Over time, this can slow your ability to burn fat and build muscle, hindering your weight-loss efforts.
So what is the solution? Be sure you are getting enough quality rest. Try this experiment from nursetogether.com: Find four days in a row when you can sleep as much as you want. On the fourth day, you should wake naturally, feeling refreshed. The amount of sleep you received on the fourth night dictates approximately how much sleep your body needs to function at its best. Aim for getting that amount of restful sleep each night.