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Why is sleep important for weight loss?

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If you have been trying to shed a few pounds but noticed that your efforts are going in vain and you are unable to meet your goals of losing weight, you might be missing something, a good night sleep.

Sleep is one of the central elements in helping to control weight. Sleep helps the body regain its energy and revitalize itself; sleep also helps maintain the balance of hormone levels that affect the body weight.

On average, an adult should get about 8 hours of sleep per day. Sleep mainly affects two hormones in the body, namely Ghrelin and leptin; these two hormones in turn influence the appetite. The former is released by the stomach and causes an increase in the appetite, whereas the latter is released by fat cells in the body and responsible for decreasing the appetite.

Lack of sleep can imbalance the hormonal levels and therefore lower the levels of leptin and increase the levels of ghrelin, which result in an increased appetite and therefore weight gain.

Growth hormone is a hormone released from pituitary gland in increased amounts during sleep; it is also released when you're awake but in quantities lesser than those released during the sleep. Growth hormone can cause growth of the body by increasing cell reproduction and regeneration. Increased reproduction and regeneration means increased usage of nutritional reserves; therefore, the greater the metabolism the greater is the use of energy (hence the stored fat) and the better is the weight loss.

Getting the right amount of sleep can lower the amount of cortisol in your blood. Cortisol is a steroid hormone. The higher the level of cortisol, the lesser is the metabolism. Cortisol causes protein in the body to breakdown and form glucose. This glucose will in turn convert into fat and get stored, increasing your body weight. So getting the adequate amount of sleep, will help you lower the levels of respective hormone and therefore help you to shed a few pounds.

Sleep is good for losing weight, but the opposite is also true. A study shows that losing weight has improved sleeping in the obese patients who underwent weight loss surgery. If you're planning to lose weight, sleeping better along with a few tips will help you reach your goal;

–         Don't go to bed empty stomached, eat at least 2 hours before hitting the hay.

–         Shun from caffeine, nicotine and alcohol right before you sleep. Caffeine affects sleep by blocking certain chemicals in the brain that induce sleep.

–         Take a shower or go for a warm bath, for relaxation. Doing this helps you to get good sleep.

–         Make sure you have a quiet and dark room so you could sleep easily.

–         If you can't sleep in the night, don't snooze during the day.

–         If you want to exercise, do it 3 hours before going to the bed. Exercise boosts your energy so after a good workout, it is possible to feel too pumped to sleep. Moreover, exercising too close to bedtime can also disturb sleep and cause you to wake up unnecessarily. This is a major reason why experts recommend exercise for a quick mood and energy boost instead of other quick-fix options such as coffee or energy drinks because the energy rise from exercise is sustainable and lasts for a longer time.

If you have sleep problems, consult your doctor. Not only will it help you reduce your weight, it will change your body for the better.

References

http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=700135

http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=646920