Would you love an excuse to get a little more shut-eye? Well, luckily, I have one for you: It can make you slimmer by cutting your food cravings down to size.
In a new study, researchers conducted two sleep experiments involving 14 volunteers. In the first experiment, the participants slept eight-and-a-half hours a night for four days. In the second, they slept only four-and-a-half hours a night for four days.
The researchers gave the participants identical meals three times a day. They also measured their blood levels of the satiety hormone leptin, the appetite hormone ghrelin, and a chemical called 2-AG, which plays a role in regulating appetite, eating, and energy levels. They predicted that sleep deprivation would activate 2-AG, making people hungrier—and it turned out they were right.
When participants slept longer, their 2-AG levels were low in the morning, peaked after lunch, and dropped as the day went on. But when the participants slept less, their 2-AG levels increased by 33 percent, spiking at 2 p.m. and staying high until about 9 p.m.
The sleep-deprived participants reported being hungrier around the time their 2-AG levels spiked. In addition, they were more likely to choose tempting high-calorie snacks. They also had lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin.
In short, cheating yourself on sleep can give you the munchies—and that translates into extra pounds.
So if you’re battling a weight problem, it’s a good idea to stop burning the candle at both ends. And yes, I know that’s easier said than done! However, here are some tricks that can help you succeed:
· Set a specific bedtime for yourself and stick to it as closely as you can.
· Meditate before bedtime to relax yourself and make sleep come more easily.
· Journal during the day about problems that are stressing you out and how you plan to solve them. This will help prevent you from ruminating over your worries during the night.
· Turn off your phone and other devices, and tell your friends not to call you within half an hour of your bedtime.
· Create a bedtime ritual. Dimming the lights, playing the same soft music each night, and even rubbing a little lavender on your bed headboard can trigger your brain to be ready for sleep.
· Limit how much you eat and drink before bedtime. If you want a drink, chose herbal tea rather than coffee or alcohol.
We all vary in our need for sleep. However, as a general rule, you should aim for at least seven hours a night. That will help you awaken rested and refreshed each day—and as this new study shows, it may also take inches off your waistline. How easy a weight-loss trick is that?
Keep Thinking Big & Living Bold!