Struggling With Your Fitness Resolution? Try Sleeping More!

This time of year, many people are struggling to lose weight because they made a New Year’s Resolution to get fit.  They go to the gym, they start taking brisk walks, and they count calories.  One part of that fitness regime that they may be missing is to get enough sleep.

Over the past few years, more and more studies have been conducted that point in one clear direction — if you don’t get enough sleep, you tend to eat more and thus gain weight.  Here are just a few of the articles on the subject here at SleepBetter.org:

The scientific explanation for the phenomena is that sleep disruption can negatively affect Leptin (a chemical that sends signals to indicate fullness) and Ghrelin (a chemical that stimulates the appetite).  When you fail to get the sleep you need, your Leptin levels decrease, meaning that you don’t feel full even after you’ve eaten and Ghrelin levels increase, which means you feel hungry, even if you’ve just eaten.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that overweight people on a reduced-calorie diet lost more weight from fat if they slept eight hours a night than those who slept less than six hours a night.

So, based on the hard science coming out seemingly every day on the subject, it’s clear that if you want to lose weight you have to not only change your exercise and eating habits, but also your sleep habits.

The first step you should take is to eliminate your sleep debt.  This may mean getting more sleep than your body needs for a little while, until you’re on the “plus” side.

Once you’ve eliminated any sleep debt you’ve accumulated, establish a good routine that includes getting the appropriate amount of sleep.  What is “appropriate” varies from person to person, but is usually somewhere between seven and nine hours each night.  Start by taking our Zzzz Score to see how you’re doing.  After that, a good rule of thumb is to try to get eight hours, and trust your body to tell you if you need more or less.  If you wake up refreshed and alert in the morning at your normal time, then you’re most likely getting the right amount.

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