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How Sleep Helps You Lose More Fat

The health benefits of proper rest, and sleep in particular, are well known. From reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, to fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, giving your body the rest and restoration time it needs pays off in a number of ways

It’s really just common sense. From breathing to getting rid of toxins, your body has systems and processes to keep you healthy and functioning properly. But, just like when you hold your breath for too long you end up gasping for air and not feeling very well, if you interrupt any other of your body’s functions, you put yourself at risk of a variety of ill effects.

Since the invention of the electric light bulb, which makes a dark room feel like the middle of the day to your body, the average amount of sleep we get each night has been decreasing. Today, our online, interconnected world of messaging, videos and ‘likes’ keeps us up longer than ever.

A Gallup poll conducted in the U.S. found that 40% of us don’t get the recommended amount of sleep each night. The polling company also pointed out that the average amount of sleep we get today is down more than an hour since 1942 – or within the lifetime of many people reading this blog post.

Study Shows Sleep Helps You Lose More Fat

Part of the problem of us refusing to go to bed any earlier, even though we know we should, is that the benefits of proper sleep have only relatively recently been studied in depth.

The effect of poor sleep on your metabolism and weight loss is made relatively clear by a number of studies. Generally speaking, lack of sleep leads to more eating, which makes it more difficult to lower your weight. Other symptoms of poor sleep, from higher stress, anxiety and depression, can also contribute to weight gain.

A study conducted by the Annals of Internal Medicine and performed at the University of Chicago revealed yet another benefit of a good night’s sleep.

Overweight and obese study participants were subjected to two test periods of two weeks each. During both test periods, they were fed a controlled, balanced diet that gave them 90% of the calories they needed to maintain their weight without exercise.

During one test period, participants slept an average of 7.5 hours per night. In the other test period, they slept about 5.5 hours per night.

The results of the study showed that, while participants lost the same amount of weight regardless of how much sleep they got, the amount of fat they lost during each period varied. During the study period of less sleep, about 25% of their weight loss was fat. During the period of proper sleep, about 50% of their weight loss was fat.

That’s 100% more fat loss from a good night’s sleep.

So what does the percentage of fat in weight loss matter when the total weight loss is the same? The other weight loss experienced by participants was attributed to “fat-free body mass, mostly protein.”

Protein, which helps build muscle, should not be the main target of weight reduction. Weight loss diets should be aimed at excess fat, which is where the extra energy form eating too many calories is stored.

But how come the total amount of weight loss was the same for the study’s participants, regardless of the amount of sleep they got, when so many other studies show that lack of sleep contributes to weight gain?

Lack of sleep increases the production of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger and reduces energy expenditure. The Chicago study found that ghrelin levels remained steady during the more-sleep period, and it increased during the less-sleep period.

But study directors pointed out that, by keeping participants on a strict diet, regardless of how much sleep they got, it prevented them from acting on hunger pangs and overeating.

One study director, Plamen Penev, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, clearly outlined the benefits of proper sleep for anyone who is trying to lose weight.

“For the first time, we have evidence that the amount of sleep makes a big difference on the results of dietary interventions. One should not ignore the way they sleep when going on a diet. Obtaining adequate sleep may enhance the beneficial effects of a diet. Not getting enough sleep could defeat the desired effects.”

A good night’s sleep is very important for many reasons, but it is just one contributing factor to successful, healthy, sustained weight loss. To find out more ways that you can healthily lose weight and keep it off, call or visit your nearest Herbal One Centre and speak to one of our nutritional consultants.


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