Could staying up too late interfere with diet and weight loss?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Partial sleep deprivation linked to inability to lose weight
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Fad diets, exercise and diet pills are all ways proposed to help people lose weight. But a frequently overlooked way to fight obesity is to ensure you get more than 6 hours of sleep each night, found in a new review of studies that span 15 years.

The finding, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, links partial sleep deprivation to weight gain and inability to lose weight.

The finding is important. According to background information from the study 35% of Americans are obese and 28% sleep less than 6 hours a night.

Sharon M. Nickols-Richardson, PhD, MD, professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park said in a press release, "The intriguing relationship between partial sleep deprivation and excess adiposity makes partial sleep deprivation a factor of interest in body weight regulation, particularly in weight loss."

For their study researchers looked at articles published between 2006 and 2011.

The team designed a set of tables that allowed them to track how sleep affects levels of hormones that regulate appetite and the hunger.

The researchers found changes in the hormones ghrelin and leptin that influenced energy intake. What that means is you're likely to eat more if you don't consistently focus on sleeping 6 to 8 hours each night. Ghrelin is referred to as the 'hunger hormone'. Leptin is al protein hormone that controls appetite and energy metabolism. When we go on a diet leptin levels increase; telling the body to eat more.

The authors concluded getting a good night’s sleep might help prevent weight gain and aid weight loss.

If you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep you may want to speak with your doctor about a sleep aid. Understand that all medications have side effects that might make a drug approach undesirable.

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Tips for sleep

Sometimes it’s just a matter of resetting your routine. Make sure you set a goal to go to bed at the same time every night to ensure 6 to 8 hours each night.

Make your room comfy and inviting and go to bed at the same time. Give yourself a ritual each night – read a good book or take a warm bath or practice a short session of yoga. You can easily find 15 to 20 minute instructional videos on the internet.

If you consistently have trouble falling asleep right away, try dimming the lights and turning off the computer and other electronics 90 minutes before getting in the bed.

A January, 2011 study at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston found exposure to bright indoor lights has a significant effect on melatonin production. According to Joshua Gooley, Ph.D., “This could, in turn, have effects on sleep quality and the body’s ability to regulate body temperature, blood pressure, and glucose levels.”

Poorly controlled glucose can lead to insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to weight gain and difficulty shedding unwanted pounds..

Lower lights in the evening increase levels of melatonin – an important hormone that helps us sleep.

Exercising in the morning is shown in a study from Appalachian State University researchers to help people sleep better. If you’re weight loss efforts already include exercise, try moving your routine to early morning.

Getting enough sleep is important for a healthy metabolism, but is often overlooked as an important tool for fighting obesity. Staying up too late could interfere with your diet and weight loss plan.

Source:
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
November, 2012

Image credit: Morguefile

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