Lose weight while you sleep. It almost sounds too good to be true huh? But as wild as the idea sounds, there’s medical evidence to suggest some fascinating links between sleep and weight. Researchers say that the amount you sleep, and indeed the quality of your sleep, may determine whether you’re a healthy body weight.
Research has shown that sleep and sleep disruption do remarkable things to the body – including possibly influencing our weight. Doctors have long known that many hormones are affected by sleep but more recently there’s been focus on the hormones leptin and ghrelin. Doctors say both can influence our appetite and studies show that production of both may be influenced by how much or how little we sleep.
The science bit simplified….
Leptin and ghrelin work in a kind of ‘checks and balances’ system to control feelings of hunger and fullness. Without getting too technical ghrelin stimulates appetite, while leptin sends a signal to the brain when you are full. And the connection to sleep? When you don’t get enough sleep, it drives leptin levels down which means you don’t feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, so you want more food. The two combined can lead to overeating, which may lead to weight gain. You may have noticed yourself on days after a bad night’s sleep. No matter how much food you eat, you just don’t feel content or energised.
Ask any sports person – as I asked top fitness expert George Anderson – what the secret of top fitness is, and he told me that it’s a combination of good training, eating the right foods and sleeping well. Get one of those three factors wrong and you seriously undermine your chances of winning a race.
So it appears then that the right hours of sleep can determine to a great extent whether one will have a healthy body weight. Three cheers for the land of nod zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!