The latest weight-loss secret? A good night's sleep.
It sounds like a dream come true: Want to lose weight? Get a good night’s sleep.
The long-established twin pillars of sensible weight loss are diet and exercise, but now some health professionals are considering adequate sleep to be a third, equally significant factor. Countless studies have linked inadequate sleep to diabetes, heart disease and cancer — not to mention the potential for a compromised immune system, which can leave you more susceptible to bacteria and viruses. In addition, lack of sleep can affect your concentration and mood.
Now, research has turned up an interesting connection between sleep deprivation and weight gain: Lack of sleep can throw off your hormones. Without sleep, ghrelin (the “hunger pang” hormone) increases, while leptin (a natural appetite-suppressing hormone) decreases. What’s more, inadequate sleep affects human growth hormone (HGH) levels. “HGH is a multi-tasker that, among other things, tells your body how to distribute fat,” says Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and author of Beauty Sleep. “With insufficient sleep, you don’t have the appropriate production of HGH and your body isn’t properly directing the fat for use as an energy source, so it ends up where all the other fat is.” The key question is this: What constitutes insufficient sleep? Breus pinpoints the optimum at about 7½ hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Clearly, our 24-7, totally wired lifestyle isn’t conducive to quality sleep. Studies by Health Canada suggest that one in four Canadians suffers from sleep deprivation, and some 3.3 million of us report bouts of insomnia.
Learn about the different types of insomnia on the next page ...