That headline would be right at home in the National Enquirer, “Lose Weight While You Sleep!
And it’s precisely that kind of nonsense I battle everyday in my job. So why in the world would I put it in my newsletter? Good question. I’ll explain..
I recently saw a VERY interesting article at WashingtonPost.com. And I want to share the important bits with you.
Based on the findings reported in the article, it appears you might have one more thing to your to-do list. And this one doesn’t take any additional effort. In fact, it may just be the easiest thing you do to improve your health.
Take a look at what the article says…
A growing number of studies now point to the ill effects of missing even just a few hours of sleep — from increased appetite and obesity to a greater risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.
“So many people could benefit from more sleep,” says James Gangwisch, a Columbia University researcher and lead author of a new study on the health effects of missed sleep. “A lot of people don’t even realize that they are sleep-deprived.”
Just look at the numbers: In 1910, Americans, who didn’t have television, computers and video games to distract them at night, slept an average of nine hours per night, according to a new report in the journal Sleep.
Nearly a century later, adults average seven hours of sleep nightly, according to a 2003 survey by the National Sleep Foundation. About a third of adults get six hours or less per night, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a large, federally funded project.
That’s short of the seven to nine hours nightly most of us need (particularly if you’re on a fitness program with us – recovery is VITAL).
The effects go far beyond feeling tired and cranky.
Skipping sleep fuels appetite, particularly for the kind of comfort food that is high in calories. Small wonder, then, that sleep deprivation is emerging as a key risk factor for obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
In fact, when Gangwisch and his colleagues analyzed the NHANES records of nearly 9,000 adults, ages 32 to 86, they found that short sleepers — that is, those who sleep five hours or less per night — were nearly twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes as those who slept seven or more hours nightly. Results are published in the December issue of the journal Sleep.
Other research, also by Gangwisch, suggests that short sleepers are twice as likely to be obese as people who get enough sleep nightly.
It’s easy to make sleep a low priority during the year…yet just an hour less sleep per night can wreak havoc, as a 2000 study by University of Chicago researchers shows.
Eve Van Cauter and her colleagues deprived healthy young adults of just an hour a night of sleep.
In six days, their hunger increased and blood-sugar levels soared, putting them in a pre-diabetic state that resembled that of people decades older.
The effects were reversed with a return to normal sleep.
Other studies show that missing sleep cuts leptin levels, a hormone that controls satiety and signals the brain that more food is NOT needed. “When leptin levels are low,” Van Cauter says, “it tells the brain that we need more calories, and hunger is stimulated.”
That’s why skipping sleep “is highly likely to promote hunger and overeating,” she says.
If you can’t manage to fit in more sleep, at least try to be a little more physically active.
Here’s why: Exercise reduces the effects of sleep deprivation on insulin resistance — a key step toward developing Type 2 diabetes. Being more active also helps improve sleep quality.
Naps may help, although the research is less clear on their benefits. If you do nap, try to get some winks at about 3 p.m., a time that Gangwisch says appears to be the optimum time for the body.
As he notes, getting enough sleep “gives more energy, makes you more creative and helps you feel better. If we put sleep higher on our priority list, we can have more energy to devote to the things that are important in our lives.”
Pretty conclusive information about the benefits of more sleep.
Clearly, getting more sleep will help you maintain your ideal body weight, keep you from eating more than your body needs, help you recover faster and benefit faster from your exercise program, help you feel younger, more vital, more energized and give you a more positive outlook.
That’s a lot of benefits that simply can’t be ignored.