Sleep is a wonderful thing, it allows us to rest.  It allows us to dream. It allows us to recover and recuperate after a hard day’s work and a hard work out. But is there more?

Yes.

But – let’s be clear up front, if you’re already getting a good healthy dose of sleep each night, then sleeping for an extra hour or two is not going to make you any leaner. However, if you are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, for most people that’s 7.5 hours of good quality sleep a night, then this could well impact on your health and waist line.  And if you increase from, say, 5 hours a night on average to 7.5 hours, you can start shedding the pounds.

There are various reasons why getting the right amount of sleep can help you with losing weight and keeping weight off.

Hormones!

Sleep professionals think that a big factor on how sleep impacts on your weight is two hormones, ghrelin and leptin.  Ghrelin is a hormone that prompts you to eat and your ghrelin levels increase when you are sleep deprived. Leptin is the hormone that tells you to quit eating.  When you are sleep deprived, leptin levels reduce. More ghrelin and less leptin is not a good equation and generally leads to eating more.

Short term sugar hit, long term problem

When you are sleep deprived you may find yourself at work grabbing for the chocolate bar, the donuts, the bag of crisps and the can of fizz to give you an energy hit to keep going.  These are short term energy spikes fuelled by junk food with low nutritional value and nothing else other than a high sugar and/or fat content. The short term result may be fighting off fatigue but the long term result is piling on the pounds.

Fatigue

When you’re tired, you’re less likely to find the energy and enthusiasm to get to the gym, go for that run or do those laps in the pool.  As a result, you train less (leading to further reductions in stamina and endurance) and burn less pounds. With reduced levels of physical activity coupled with poor food choices, the weight goes on.

When you’re sleeping, you ain’t eating

(Well, it’s a pretty hard thing to achieve!!).  Rather than sitting on the couch late into the night and reaching for another pack of biscuits or crisps out of boredom or to keep flagging energy levels up, why not try turning in at a decent hour.  That way you are not snacking late into the night. And guess what, while your metabolism slows down when you’re sleeping, it doesn’t turn off. You’re still burning calories when you sleep.

So, embrace the pillow and a good night’s sleep. Wake up full of energy and get set on getting leaner.